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Shakespeare Tercen tetiarii U)l(> 




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.,,- ,,,v ,:.;::;,::. PREFACE ;:,!, K;-.,:, ;; ;i,.. /, ^ 

FOR years past as far back as 1904 many of us had been looking 
forward to the Shakespeare Tercentenary as the occasion for some 
fitting memorial to symbolize the intellectual fraternity of mankind in 
the universal homage accorded to the genius of the greatest Englishman. 
We had hoped that, on a site which has already been acquired, a stately 
building, to be associated with his august name, equipped and adequately 
endowed for the furtherance of Shakespearian drama and dramatic art 
generally, would have made the year 1916 memorable in the annals of 
the English stage. 

At a noteworthy meeting held in July 1914 of delegates nominated 
by many institutions, universities, societies, and other bodies, to consider 
the question of the observance of the Shakespeare Tercentenary, Lord 
Bryce as President of the British Academy presiding, it was unanimously 
resolved, on the motion of the American Ambassador, His Excellency 
W. H. Page, * That the Tercentenary of the death of Shakespeare 
should be commemorated in a manner worthy of the veneration in which 
the memory of Shakespeare is held by the English-speaking peoples 
and by the world at large '. The delegates, representing the British 
Empire, the United States, and foreign countries, were constituted as 
a General Committee, and an Executive Committee was appointed, with 
Lord Plymouth as Chairman, and myself as Honorary Secretary. 

Then came the War ; and the dream of the world's brotherhood 
to be demonstrated by its common and united commemoration of 
Shakespeare, with many another fond illusion, was rudely shattered. 
In face of sterner duties all such projects fell necessarily into abeyance. 
Some months ago, however, it was recognized (and the call came to us 
from many quarters at home and abroad) that not even under present 
conditions should the Shakespeare Tercentenary be allowed to pass 
unobserved, though the scope of our original programme would of 


necessity be modified, though we could not hope to witness even the 
foundation of the proposed Shakespeare Theatre, nor to welcome, as we 
had anticipated, the many devotees of the poet who would have wished 
to participate in our Commemoration. 

We knew we should have our friends with us in spirit on the great 
occasion ; and it seemed to me, in one way at least, possible to link their 
homage with ours, and to hand down to posterity a worthy Record of 
the widespread reverence for Shakespeare as shared with the English- 
speaking world by our Allies and Neutral States, namely, by the publica 
tion, in honour of the Tercentenary, of a Book of Homage to Shakespeare, 
with contributions in prose and verse, representing the ubiquity of the 
poet's mighty influence. Accordingly, encouraged by those whom I 
ventured to consult, and subsequently with the approval of the Ter 
centenary Committee, I took upon myself the responsible and onerous 
task, complicated by present conditions ; and the ready and generous 
co-operation of one hundred and sixty-six Homagers finds expression 
in the present volume. Time and space necessitated certain limitations ; 
and it has not been possible to include many who would have been 
willing to join in our Homage, and whose tributes to the poet would 
have been valued by all Shakespearians. The original plan of the book 
fixed the maximum number of contributors at one hundred. It soon 
became clear that this would have to be increased, and that the British 
Empire alone could not well be represented by less than one hundred 
contributors, with some seventy more representing America, France, 
Italy, Greece, Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, Portugal, Rou- 
mania, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, 
Norway, Russia, Serbia, Poland, ' Jugoslavia ', Finland, Japan, China, 
Persia, Armenia to follow the arrangement of the book, where the 
nations are grouped by languages, namely, English, Romance, Dutch, 
Scandinavian, Slavonic, &c. These languages, however, do not exhaust 
the list, for from British subjects we have tributes, not only in the classic 
dead languages of antiquity, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit, but also 
in the living languages of Ireland, Wales, India (Bengalee, Urdu, and 
Burmese), Egypt (Arabic), and South Africa (the Bechuana dialect). 

It is indeed a long-drawn procession that is here presented ; and 


before it is graciously ushered in by our honoured chieftain Mr. Thomas 
Hardy, it is my pleasant duty to record my profound thanks to him and 
to all those who have made it possible for the Book of Homage to come 
forth amid the throes of this world-travail. I am grateful to many of my 
contributors for much kind indulgence in difficult and delicate questions ; 
and I owe a special debt of gratitude to the trusty advisers who have 
given me the benefit of their valued counsel. I regret that, for various 
reasons, it has not been possible to give translations in all cases where 
a full English rendering would have been desirable ; the marginal 
paraphrases will, I trust, prove helpful, as indicating the general purport 
of certain contributions in languages not generally known. A few 
contributions have unfortunately not reached me in time for inclusion 
in the volume. 

While the work has been in progress, we have had to mourn the 
loss of some whose names would have added lustre to the Roll of our 
Homagers the late Mr. Henry James, so noble a link between the 
English-speaking peoples ; my ever revered and kind friend Mr. Stopford 
Brooke, to whom, for his Primer of English Literature and its inspiring 
force, the teaching of English literature, in my opinion, owes more than 
to any other man of our time ; Canon Ellacombe, the nonagenarian, 
whose Plant-Lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare made Shakespeare's 
Garden of Flowers burgeon forth anew ; Count Ugo Balzani, endeared 
to many Englishmen, who had been nominated by the Lincei, of Rome, 
to represent that learned Academy at the Tercentenary Commemoration, 
who was present at the meeting constituting the General Committee 
in 1914, and who was preparing his Homage to Shakespeare at the time 
of his lamented death ; and, lastly, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of 
Roumania, whose memory, as Carmen Sylva, is enshrined in the hearts 
of those who cherish the tender blossoms of sweet poesy. All these 
and others should be gratefully remembered, for they are with us in 
our Homage. 

I desire to express my sincerest thanks to many who have helped 
me in various ways Mr. Nevill Forbes, Reader in Russian in the Uni 
versity of Oxford (for his excellent translations of the Russian and other 
Slavonic contributions) ; Professor Margoliouth, Laudian Professor of 


Arabic in the University of Oxford (for reading the proofs of the Arabic 
poems, and for summarizing their contents) ; Professor Paul Hamelius, 
of the University of Liege (for valued assistance with Dutch and Flemish); 
Sir Charles Eliot, Principal of the University of Hong-kong, and the 
Rev. S. B. Drake, King's College, London, in respect of Chinese ; Pro 
fessor Longford (for advice on Japanese) ; Mrs. Rhys Davids (for her 
good offices in helping me to secure adequate representation of Burmese); 
Miss Laurence Alma-Tadema ; Mr. Mikhail, an Egyptian student of 
King's College ; Miss Alice Werner, Miss Winifred Stephens, and 
Miss Mabel Day. 

I would add my best thanks to Mr. J. F. Blumhardt, Professor of 
Hindustani, University College, London, for generously preparing for 
me a comprehensive catalogue of all the versions of Shakespeare in the 
Aryan languages and dialects of India, for a survey I had contemplated 
of the renderings of Shakespeare into foreign languages. 

Finally, I wish to place on record my profound appreciation of the 
manner in which Mr. F. J. Hall, Controller of the Oxford University 
Press, and his staff, have carried this work through, under exceptional 
difficulties. But for Mr. Hall's zeal, and the marvellous organization 
of the Oxford University Press, the Book could not possibly have been 
published in time for the Tercentenary. The workmanship speaks 
for itself. I desire also to express my thanks to Mr. Emery Walker for 
his share in the artistic side of the volume. 

It is my hope that this Shakespeare Tercentenary Book may in 
augurate the annual issue of a volume of Shakespeare studies, or, at all 
events, that it may help forward some Shakespearian work ; and to this 
purpose I propose to devote the profits, if any, accruing from this labour 
of loyal homage and dutiful reverence, from this Book of Homage to 
Shakespeare and to Shakespeare's England. 

I. G, 

April 20, 1916. 



To SHAKESPEARE AFTER 300 YEARS . . ^ . . . i 




THE RIDDLE . . .13 



LAURENCE BINYON, author of London Visions, &c. 


THE RT. HON. VISCOUNT BRYCE, O.M., President of the British 

SOME STRAY THOUGHTS .... . . . 22 


the English Monasteries, &c. 


JOHN DRINKWATER, author of Poems of Men and Hours, &c. 

FOR APRIL 23, 1616-1916 . . . . . ..'. , 30 

REV. WILLIAM BARRY, D.D. (Rome), author of The New Antigone 



HEROINES r . ( '; .. . 35 




JOHN GALSWORTHY, author of The Silver Box, &c. 




H. B. IRVING, M.A. (Oxford) 




ALFRED PERCEVAL GRAVES, author of Songs of Killarney, &c. 


PROFESSOR W. P. KER, LL.D., F.B.A., University Professor of 
English Language and Literature, University College, 
London ; author of Epic and Romance, &c. 




a Study in the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual 
Consciousness, Practical Mysticism, &c. 


JOHN BURNET, LL.D., Professor of Greek in the University of 
St. Andrews 


W. MACNEILE DIXON, Litt.D., Professor of English Literature in 
the University of Glasgow ; author of English Poetry from 
Blake to Browning 


W. H. HADOW, D.Mus., Principal, Armstrong College, Newcastle 




J. A. FULLER-MAITLAND, editor of Grove's Dictionary of Music, &c. 


WILLIAM BARCLAY SQUIRE, Assistant-Keeper, British Museum ; 
author of Catalogue of old Printed Music in the British 
Museum, &c. 


REGINALD BLOMFIELD, R.A., author of History of Renaissance 
Architecture in England, &c. 


SIR SIDNEY COLVIN, Hon. D.Litt., Oxford, Member of the Royal 
Academy of Belgium, late Keeper of Prints and Drawings, 
British Museum 



LIONEL CUST, C.V.O., Litt.D., F.S.A., formerly Director of the 

National Portrait Gallery 

SHAKESPEARE ......... 100 

LIEUT.-COL. SIR RONALD ROSS, K.C.B., F.R.S., Nobel Laureate ; 
author of Malarial Fever: its Cause, Prevention, and 

SHAKESPEARE, 1916 . 104 

W. H. DAVIES, author of The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp 


HENRY BRADLEY, Hon. D.Litt., Oxford, F.B.A., editor of The New 
English Dictionary 


SIR SIDNEY LEE, Litt.D., F.B.A., University Professor of English 
Language and Literature, East London College; author of 
A Life of Shakespeare, &c. 




HERBERT TRENCH, formerly Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford ; 
author of Deirdre Wedded, &c. 


ALFRED NO YES, Hon. Litt.D. (Yale), author of Drake, Forty Singing 
Seamen, &c. 


MRS. C. C. STOPES, author of Shakespeare's Environment, &c. 


THE VERY REV. H. C. BEECHING, D.D., Dean of Norwich 


A. CLUTTON-BROCK, author of Shelley, the Man and the Poet, &c. 


MORTON LUCE, author of Shakespeare, the Man and his Work, &c. 


W. F. TRENCH, M.A. (Cantab.), Litt.D. (Dublin), Professor of English 
Literature in the University of Dublin ; author of Shake 
speare's Hamlet, &c. 


GEORGE SAINTSBURY, D.Litt., F.B.A., late Professor of English 
Literature in the University of Edinburgh ; author of History 
of English Prosody, &c. 


THE RT. HON. J. M. ROBERTSON, M.P., author of Montaigne and 
Shakespeare, &c. 


W. J. COURTHOPE, C.B., Litt.D., F.B.A., formerly Prof essor of Poetry 
in the University of Oxford ; author of History of English 
Poetry, &c. 





British Ambassador at Rome ; author of Ballads of the 
Fleet, &c. 


JOHN BAILEY, author of Dr. Johnson and his Circle, &c. 

A NOTE ON FALSTAFF . . . . . ; 1 . 149 

E. K. CHAMBERS, C.B., author of The Medieval Stage, &c. 



OLIVER ELTON, Professor of English Literature in the University 
of Liverpool ; author of Survey of English Literature, ij8o~ 
1830, &c. 

HELENA .... . ... j . 161 

W. L. COURTNEY, LL.D., Fellow of New College, Oxford 

ORSINO TO OLIVIA ........ 162 

A. C. BRADLEY, LL.D., F.B.A., formerly Professor of Poetry in the 
University of Oxford ; author of Shakespearean Tragedy, &c. 

FESTE THE JESTER ........ 164 

ISRAEL GOLLANCZ, Litt.D., F.B.A., University Professor of English 
Language and Literature, King's College, London ; Secretary 
of the British Academy ; Honorary Secretary of the Shake 
speare Tercentenary Committee ; editor of The Temple 
Shakespeare, &c. 



W. W, GREG, Litt.D., author of Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama, 

A CRITICAL MOUSETRAP . . . W' / . . 179 

R. WARWICK BOND, Professor of English Literature, University 
College, Nottingham ; editor of The Complete Works of John 
1600 181 



SIR HENRY NEWBOLT, Professor of Poetry in the Royal Society of 

Literature ; author of Admirals all, &c. 

M. W. MACCALLUM, Professor of Modern Literature, University of 
Sydney; author of Shakespeare's Roman Plays and their 
Background, &c. 

HUGH WALKER, LL.D., Professor of English Literature, St. David's 
College, Lampeter; author of Literature of the Victorian 
Era, &c. 

J. W. MACKAIL, LL.D., F.B.A., formerly Professor of Poetry in the 
University of Oxford ; author of The Springs of Helicon, &c. 


A. C. BENSON, C.V.O., LL.D., President of Magdalene College, Cam 
bridge ; author of The Upton Letters, &c. 

ARIEL 197 



J. LE GAY BRERETON, author of Elizabethan Drama : Notes and 
Studies, &c. 


W. J. LAWRENCE (Dublin), author of The Elizabethan Playhouse, &c. 


THE RT. HON. W. J. M. STARKIE, LL.D., Litt.D., editor of 


A. R. SKEMP, Professor of English in the University of Bristol 




R. G. MOULTON, M.A. (Cantab.), Professor of Literary Theory and 
Interpretation in the University of Chicago ; author of 
Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist, &c. 


C. H. HERFORD, Litt.D., Professor of English Literature, University 
of Manchester ; author of The Literary Relations of England 
and Germany in the Sixteenth Century, &c. 


G. C. MOORE SMITH, Litt.D., Hon. Ph.D. (Louvain), Professor of 
English Language and Literature, University of Sheffield; 
editor of Club Law, &c. 

SONNETS, 1616:1916 . . . fl . "'/ . .' . 236 

A. W. POLLARD, Assistant Keeper, British Museum; author of 
Shakespeare's Folios and Quartos, &c. 

A BIBLIOGRAPHER'S PRAISE . . . ,. ",*/, , . 238 

SIR A. W. WARD, Litt.D., F.B.A., Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge; 
author of History of English Dramatic Literature, &c. 


ISRAEL ZANGWILL, author of Children of the Ghetto, &c. 

THE Two EMPIRES ; "{ . . 248 

H. B. WHEATLEY, D.C.L., late President of the Bibliographical 
Society ; author of Medieval London, &c. 




CITY OF LONDON . . . .: .. !s ,.; ? ... . 252 

FREDERICK S. BOAS, LL.D., author of University Drama in the 
Tudor Age, &c. 

OXFORD AND SHAKESPEARE . . / :/..* 4 : ,.i . 254 




ARTHUR GRAY, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge 


MISS M. DORMER HARRIS, editor of The Coventry Lett Book, &c. 


H. J. C. GRIERSON, LL.D., Professor of English Literature in the 
University of Edinburgh ; editor of the Poems of John Donne 


Chancellor of Dublin University ; author of The Diary of 
Master Silence, &c. 


DOUGLAS HYDE, (An Craoibhin Aoibhinn), Litt.D., LL.D., author of 
A Literary History of Ireland, Love Songs of Connacht, &c. 



JOHN EDWARD LLOYD, Professor of History, University College 
of North Wales, Bangor ; author of A History of Wales, &c. 


J. MORRIS JONES, Professor of Welsh, University College of North 

REV. J. O. WILLIAMS, PEDROG (Liverpool) 


J. W. H. ATKINS, Professor of English Language and Literature, 
University College of Wales, Aberystwyth ; late Fellow of 
St. John's College, Cambridge 


SIR JOHN SANDYS, Litt.D., F.B.A., Public Orator in the University 
of Cambridge 




ALEXANDER W. MAIR, Litt.D., Professor of Greek in the University 
of Edinburgh ; editor of Hesiod, &c. 


SIR HERBERT WARREN, K.C.V.O., President of Magdalen College, 
Oxford ; late Professor of Poetry, University of Oxford 


THE REV. H. GOLLANCZ, D.Litt., Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew, 
University College, London ; editor of The Ethical Treatises 
of Berachya, &c, 

HEBREW ODE . v ;$ : tr . . . ,:, . . ., . . 307 

A. A. MACDONELL, Ph.D., F.B.A., Boden Professor of Sanskrit in 
the University of Oxford, author of A History of Sanskrit 
Literature, &c. 


THE HON. WILLIAM PEMBER REEVES, Ph.D. (Athens) ; Director 
of London School of Economics ; formerly High Com 
missioner for New Zealand ; author of The Long White 
Cloud, a History of New Zealand, &c. 

THE DREAM IMPERIAL ........ 312 

WILFRED CAMPBELL, LL.D., Canadian poet, author of Lake 
Lyrics, &c. 

SHAKESPEARE . . 'V' . '. '; . v . . 314 

author of The Book of the Native, &c. 

To SHAKESPEARE, 1916 . . . . ". '-'. 315 

CANON F. G. SCOTT, C.M.G., D.C.L. ; Senior Chaplain, ist Canadian 
Division, B.E.F. ; author of The Hymn of Empire, and Other 
Poems, &c. 
'SHAKESPEARE' . . . '.- v . . 'V- . 316 

ANANDA COOMARASWAMY, author of The Arts and Crafts of 
India and Ceylon, &c. 

INTELLECTUAL FRATERNITY . . . . ^ . * v . 317 

b 2 



SIR RABINDRANATH TAGORE, D.Litt. ; Nobel Laureate for 
Literature ; author of Gitanjali ; The Crescent Moon, &c. 


MOHAMMED IGVAL, scholar and advocate (Lahore), and 


S. Z. AUNG, Burmese Buddhist scholar and philosopher 


MAUNG TIN, M.A., of Rangoon College ; editor of Khuddaka pdtha 








CHARLES MILLS GAYLEY, Litt.D., LL.D., Professor of English 
Literature in the University of California ; editor of Repre 
sentative English Comedies, &c. 


HORACE HOWARD FURNESS, JUNR., editor of the Variorum 


CLAYTON HAMILTON, dramatic critic, author of Stagecraft, &c. 


JOHN GRIER HIBBEN, Ph.D., LL.D., President of Princeton 




ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON, Litt.D., LL.D., Secretary of the 
American Academy of Arts and Letters ; author of Songs of 
Liberty, &c. 

SHAKESPEARE ......... 351 

JOHN MATTHEWS MANLY, LL.D., Professor of English Literature 
in the University of Chicago ; editor of Specimens of the Pre- 
Shahespearean Drama 

Two NEGLECTED TASKS .... ;# j .' . 353 

BRANDER MATTHEWS, Litt.D., Professor of Dramatic Literature, 
Columbia University ; author of Shakspere as a Playwright 


FREDERICK MORGAN PADELFORD, Ph.D., Professor of the English 
Language and Literature in the University of Washington ; 
editor of Early Sixteenth Century Lyrics, &c. 


WILLIAM LYON PHELPS, Professor of English Literature at Yale 


FELIX E. SCHELLING, Professor of English Literature in the Uni 
versity of Pennsylvania ; author of Elizabethan Drama, &c. . 


OWEN WISTER, M.A. (Harvard), author of The Virginian, &c. 



GEORGE SANTAYANA, Litt.D., Ph.D., author of The Life of 
Reason, &c. 






HENRI BERGSON, de I'Acaddmie fransaise ; Corresponding Fellow 

of the British Academy 

MAURICE BOUCHOR, author of Les Chansons de Shakespeare mises 
en vers francais 

SHAKESPEARE ' . . 381 

6MILE BOUTROUX, de 1' Academic fransaise ; Corresponding Fellow 
of the British Academy 


ALBERT FEUILLERAT, Professor of English Language and Literature 
in the University of Rennes ; author of John Lyly ; Black- 
friar Records, &c. 


&MILE HOVELAQUE, Inspecteur GSneVal de Instruction Publique 


HIS EXCELLENCY J.-J. JUSSERAND, French Ambassador at 
Washington ; Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy ; 
author of Histoire litteraire du -peuple anglais 


IiMILE LEGOUIS, Professor of English Language and Literature at 
the Sorbonne ; author of The Early Life of Wordsworth 

QA ET LA 405 

ROMAIN ROLLAND, author of Jean-Christophe, &c. 


PIERRE VILLEY, Professor of French Literature, University of Caen 


HENRI DE RfiGNIER, de 1' Academic francaise 




Greek Minister 



ISIDORO DEL LUNGO, Senator ; author of Women of Florence 


LUIGI LUZZATTI, Italian Minister 

PRO SHAKESPEARE ! . . . . . . 428 


SHAKESPEARE . . > 4 2 9 

CINO CHIARINI, Professor of English Literature, Florence 


PAOLO ORANO, man of letters, Rome 


JOS6 DE ARMAS, Member of the Royal Spanish Academy ; author of 
El Quijote y su poca 


Spanish Ambassador 


A. MAURA, President of the Royal Spanish Academy 

SHAKESPEARE f? , : -. - . 437 

ARMANDO PAL AGIO VALD&S, Member of the Royal Spanish 

EL CIELO DE SHAKSPEARE . . . . . .,.-,. . 439 

C. SILVA VILD6SOLA, South American publicist 






GEORGE YOUNG, M.V.O., late of the British Legation, Lisbon; 
author of Portugal through its Poetry, &c. 


HIS EXCELLENCY NICOLAS MIU, Envoy Extraordinary and 
Roumanian Minister 


LOUIS FR&D&RIC CHOISY, Professor of Comparative Literature in 
the University of Geneva 


RENIi MORAX, Swiss poet and dramatist 






PAUL HAMELIUS, Professor of English Language and Literature in 
the University of Liege 


REN DE CLERCQ, Flemish poet 


CYRIEL BUYSSE, Flemish writer 


ALBERT VERWEY, Dutch poet 


W. G. C. BYVANCK, Librarian of the Royal Library, The Hague 




B. A. P. VAN DAM, M.D., author of William Shakespeare's Prosody 
and Text 


OTTO JESPERSEN, Professor of English Philology at the University of 
Copenhagen ; author of Growth and Structure of the English 
Language, &c. 



JON STEFANSSON, Ph.D., Icelandic scholar 


NIELS M0LLER, Danish poet 


GEORGE BRANDES, LL.D., Professor ; Commander of the Orders 
of Danebrog and St. Olaf, &c. ; author of William Shake 

SHAKESPEARE ......... 490 

KARL MANTZIUS, Danish actor and scholar ; author of A History 
of Theatrical Art in Ancient and Modern Times 


VALD. VEDEL, Professor of Literary History, Copenhagen 


KARL WARBURG, Professor of Literary History in the University 
of Stockholm 

HAMLET i SVERIGE . . . i-vO . . . . 495 

C. COLLIN, Professor of English Literature in the University of 




K. BALMONT, Russian poet and scholar (with translations by NEVILL 




MAXIMILIAN VOLOSHIN, Russian poet (with translation by NEVILL 


* AMARI ', Russian poet 




PAVLE POPOVlC, Professor of Southern Slav Literature in the 
University of Belgrade; author of A History of Serbian 
Literature, &c. 


SRGJAN TUSIC, Jugoslav dramatist 


HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ, Polish novelist ; author of Quo Vadis, &c. 
(with translation by Miss LAURENCE ALMA-TADEMA) 



EINO LEINO, Finnish poet 

SHAKESPEARE-TUNNELMA (with English translation) . . 534 

YRJO HIRN, Professor of Aesthetics and Modern Literature in the 
University of Helsingfors 


JUHANI AHO, Finnish man of letters 




YUZO TSUBOUCHI, Emeritus Professor of English Literature, Waseda 
University, Tokyo ; translator of Shakespeare into Japanese 


GONNOSK& KOMAI, Japanese War Correspondent and poet 


LIU PO TUAN, Chinese poet (Hong-kong) 


AHMAD KHAN, Persian scholar 


K. H. FUNDUKLIAN, translator of Antony and Cleopatra, &c., into 


MISS ZABELLE C. BOYAJIAN, author of Yesterc, a novel dealing 
with Armenian life, &c. 


EPILOGUE . .553 




1. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. Print engraved by Martin Droes- 

hout. Probably executed 1622/3. Elaborated from the Proof. 
From the plate in the First Folio .... Frontispiece 

2. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. From the (coloured) effigy, carved 

by Garret Johnson the Younger, in Holy Trinity Church, 
Stratford-on-Avon . . . . .To face p. 4 

3. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. (Head only.) From the earliest 

Proof (known as ' the Unique Proof ') of the engraving by 
Martin Droeshout, discovered by J. O. Halliwell[-Phillipps] in 
1864, before elaboration for the First Folio. In the possession 
of Mr. H. C. Folger, of New York. By consent of the Trustees 
of the Shakespeare Birthplace. (Copyright) . . To face p. 6 

4. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. The Chandos Portrait. In the 

National Portrait Gallery .... To face p. 8 

5. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. (Head only.) Painted by Sir 

Godfrey Kneller in 1693, from the Chandos Portrait, for pre 
sentation to John Dry den. In the possession of the Earl Fitz- 
william, through whose courtesy it is here, for the first time, 
reproduced To face p. 10 



6. PLATE I (A). Hector dissuaded from going to battle by his 

\\omcnkind and by Priam. From a fragment of one of a series 
of sketches in the Louvre for tapestries representing the Siege 
of Troy. 

PLATE I (B). A battle of Greeks and Trojans, with Trojan women 
looking on from the walls. From an engraving after one of a 
series of tapestries representing the Siege of Troy . To face p. 96 

7. PLATE II. The sack of Troy, with the murder of Priam, the sacri 

fice of Polyxena, &c. From one of a series of sketches in the 
Louvre for tapestries representing the Siege of Troy . To face p. 98 

8. Bodleian Aubrey MS. 8, fol. 45* . .... To face p. 120 

9. The Platt of Frederick and Basilea . . . .To face p. 208 





BRIGHT baffling Soul, least capturable of themes, 
Thou, who display 'dst a life of commonplace, 
Leaving no intimate word or personal trace 
Of high design outside the artistry 

Of thy penned dreams, 
Still shalt remain at heart unread eternally. 

Through human orbits thy discourse to-day, 
Despite thy formal pilgrimage, throbs on 
In harmonies that cow Oblivion, 
And, like the wind, with all-uncared effect 

Maintain a sway 
Not fore- desired, in tracks unchosen and unchecked. 

And yet, at thy last breath, with mindless note 
The borough clocks as usual tongued the hour, 
The Avon idled past the garth and tower, 
Thy age was published on thy passing-bell 

But in due rote 

With other men's that year accorded a like knell. 



And at the strokes some townsman (met, maybe, 
And thereon queried by some squire's good dame 
Driving in shopward) may have given thy name, 
With, ' Yes, a worthy man and well-to-do ; 

Though, as for me, 
I knew him but by just a neighbour's nod, 'tis true. 

' I' faith, few knew him much here, save by word, 

He having elsewhere led his busier life ; 

Though to be sure he left with us his wife.' 

* Ah, one of the tradesmen's sons, I now recall . . . 

Witty, I've heard . . . 
We did not know him . . . Well, good-day. Death comes to all.' 

So like a strange bright-pinioned bird we find 
To mingle with the barn-door brood awhile, 
Then vanish from their homely domicile 
Into man's poesy, we weet not whence, 

Flew thy strange mind, 
Lodged there a radiant guest, and sped for ever thence. 


February 14, 1916. 



* IT is a great comfort, to my thinking/ wrote Charles Dickens to 
William Sandys the antiquary, seventy years ago, * that so little is known 
concerning the poet. It is a fine mystery ; and I tremble every day lest 
something should come out. If he had had a Boswell, society wouldn't 
have respected his grave, but would calmly have had his skull in the 
phrenological shop-windows/ 

It is doubtless true enough. The curiosity of the ordinary man, 
intensified in the hero-worshipper, has little respect for mystery and 
still less patience with it. The desire of every thinker, the ambition of 
every reasoning and contemplative mind, is to draw aside the curtain 
that shrouds the unknown. The more elusive the solution the more 
ardent the quest : the theologist of every age has sought to probe the 
nature and mystery of the Godhead Itself. 

To the biographer, as Carlyle declared, an authentic portrait of his 
subject is an urgent necessity : he needs the facial testimony to examine 
and cross-examine, to ponder, to analyse, to compare. The greatest of 
those of whom no genuine portraits exist have frequently been a tempta 
tion which the intellectual artist has not sought to resist. Shakespeare, 
however, is relatively of our own day. The art of portraiture had 
reached its zenith at about the time when he was moving upon the 
world's stage, and its practice, tant bien que mal, was already common 
in England. The two known portraits of the actor-poet which were 
brought into existence near the time of his death were the work of 
craftsmen unhappily but indifferently equipped, and not of poet-artists. 
Whatever their skill in accurate draughtsmanship and modelling, they 
lacked the power of rendering life, and the sense of beauty was not theirs. 

It is therefore not surprising that, in course of time, people should 
become dissatisfied with these matter-of-fact and banal representations, 
so poorly executed by chisel and graver, despite the fact that Shake 
speare's image had been by them authoritatively recorded. Dissatisfac 
tion bred doubt ; in some, repudiation ; and in the desire to eliminate 



all grounds for scepticism and to establish or refute the authenticity of 
the accepted portraits, a small phalanx of noisy, over-articulate de 
votees clamoured for the opening of Shakespeare's grave in order that 
the poet's features might be gazed upon and . . . photographed if, as 
was believed to be likely, the Stratford soil had stayed the decomposing 
hand of Death. Alternatively, the skull might be studied, measurements 
might be taken, diagrams and drawings made, whereby the portraits 
could be tested, and had the cold objectivity of the calm proposal 
found favour and the request been granted within a few weeks, we 
may be sure, * society would have had his skull in the phrenological 
shop- windows '. 

But the finer feeling of the nation declared itself against so revolting 
an experiment which had been so strenuously contended for on both 
sides of the Atlantic. The argument that similar inquiries had been 
carried into effect at the hands of the charnel-house explorer in the 
case of Robert the Bruce, Burns, and a score of others not less celebrated, 
fell upon ears either deaf or shocked ; and Dickens 's fear lest ' something 
should come out ' was set at rest, likely enough, for ever. The addi 
tional proof that was to silence cavillers and confirm still further the 
confidence of the world in the only two portraits that have any real 
claim to truth and genuine likeness had to be forgone ; and the effigy 
in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford and the print by Martin Droeshout 
were left to stand unassisted, as they easily may, without corroboration 
dug up out of the desecrated tomb. Without any outrage of sentiment 
they must justify themselves and vindicate one another. Many persons 
unfamiliar with the study of iconography and unversed in comparative 
portraiture may still find difficulty in reconciling some of the more super 
ficial characteristics of the two likenesses : that is to say, the youthfulness 
as rendered in Droeshout 's print, with the maturity presented by the Bust. 

But how many know these two works as they really are, or were 
intended to be ? How many have had the opportunity of judging of 
Shakespeare's face as sculptor and engraver, each in his turn, represented 
it ? Few very few indeed. For the bust cannot now be seen, much 
less judged, behind its coat of colour-decoration which in several 
important respects contradicts the glyptic forms ; and the print as it 
appears in the First Folio, and as it is known to the world, is almost 
a travesty of the plate as Droeshout originally left it. 

Let us consider these two portraits, and see how far we should 
recognize in them the actual lineaments of the man Shakespeare as he 
lived. First as to the Bust. 




In the first place we must dismiss from our recollection nearly all 
the so-called * plaster casts from the original bust ' from which most 
people derive their knowledge and receive their strongest impression, 
and on which they form their opinion concerning Shakespeare's head 
and features because the vast majority of these objects are taken, not 
from the bust itself, but from mere copies of it very inaccurately 
modelled. We must look at the bust itself, which the younger Garret 
Johnson cut. 

When we examine closely and with attention the sculptor's naive 
work, we realize to our surprise that this effigy (which, although it 
gazes with such rapt ineptitude from its niche, appealed with curious 
force to Chantrey, Landor, Washington Irving, and many others) has 
been fundamentally modified both as to forms and expression by the 
polychrome (technically called * beautifying ') applied by a painter who 
wilfully defied the intention of the sculptor. The painted eyebrows 
with their strongly arched sweep correspond ill with the carved indica 
tions of them. The wellnigh formless lips frame a mouth little under 
stood, it would seem, by the colourist. The full staring pupils, crudely 
painted in, are barely natural in their doll-like gaze. In all these points 
and more the painter's misrendering conceals the Shakespeare of the 
sculptor's chisel, roughly but honestly carved. 

Thus with its forms varied and expression changed, features are 
thrown into inharmonious relief, and true dimensions and actual model 
ling are gravely prejudiced. If this we owe to the original colouring, 
supposing it to be unjustified, hardly could we withhold our sympathy 
from the much-reviled Malone who in 1793 caused the ' beautifying ' 
to be over-painted with stone-colour ; for even those who fulminated 
against his vandalism enjoyed, thanks to his so-called ' daubing ', a sight 
denied to our generation. Not then did Shakespeare's open mouth 
resolve itself into what has been called * a grin of death ' ; it revealed 
the parted, speaking lips of one who declaimed, as an actor-poet might, 
the words he had just set down on the paper at his hand : a conception 
as simply and naturally imagined as it was clumsily and frankly realized. 

If we assume that the present colours faithfully reproduce those 
which were from the first employed, in order to impart an effect of 
life, it may be deduced that the chromatic scheme was introduced with 
the view of securing a truer resemblance than the sculptor had achieved. 
What if the family and friends of the departed poet, dissatisfied with 
young Garret Johnson's performance, had acted on his advice that 
a * face-painter ' should be called in as was a common practice to give 


the final touch of life which he himself had missed ? The colourist's duty 
would be to bring the head into truer relation with the facts as these 
were explained to him. But, even then, it must be remembered that the 
present colouring is a relatively modern reconstitution of that of 1748-9, 
before which time the painting was more perfect, according to Halliwell- 
Phillipps, or contrarily, according to Malone, had not ever defaced 
the plain stone of the bust. An element of uncertainty on this point 
and on the value of the chromatic elements of the portrait must neces 
sarily exist ; yet as to the truth of the main essentials of the sculptured 
image no doubt can be entertained. For when all is said we must recog 
nize here, as in the Droeshout print, the particularity of paramount 
importance, the outstanding characteristic which is the unquestionable 
test and touchstone of every portrait of the poet the upright forehead, 
the dome-like skull, which Professor Arthur Keith has shown to be 
the * round head ' of the Bronze Age identified as the physical mark 
of the true Celt (as Europe understands the term) and the cranial 
symbol of the world's finest artists and most inspired among the poets 
and men of imagination. 

Nor, in similar fashion, can the full significance of Martin Droes- 
hout's print be wholly understood, even by those who study it in the 
First Folio, because it is only in the earliest proof state that the head of 
Shakespeare can be rightly and fully judged. For there the poet is 
revealed, it may safely be inferred, as he was in early manhood. It is 
a face we can accept the visage of one little more than a youth, with 
a slight downy moustache, a small lip-beard, a strong chin devoid of 
growth, and fair eyebrows set low on the orbital ridges of the frontal 
bone. The forehead is bald, perhaps prematurely, perhaps deliberately 
shaved, either to conform to the sometime fashion which Hentzner's 
Elizabethan records tell of, or else for greater ease in playing venerable 
characters such as old Adam, Kno'well, and the like such parts, indeed, 
as young players of the period were commonly entrusted with : when 
even boy-actors, such as the famous Pavy, might achieve a great 
reputation by their rendering of them. In any case, it is * a noble 
front', the full and lofty dome which the Bronze Age had brought here 
from the Continent, the form that housed brains of poetic genius, 
capable of the most exalted beauty of conception. So much, indeed, 
has modern anthropology established. As for the frank young English 
face- the calm placidity of its observant gaze, the delicate firmness of 
features and expression, the characteristic aspect of large sympathy held 


in control by critical judgement, the strong reserve of individuality 
these have survived, in spite of all, the deficiencies of the young 
Droeshout's art, of his stiffness of rendering, and his still inexperienced 
hand. We have here, then, Shakespeare of the Sonnets and of Love's 
Labour 's Lost rather than Shakespeare of the Tragedies. 

Not elsewhere, it may be believed, do we come so close to the living 
Man of Stratford as in the earliest proof of the print, which once be 
longed to Halliwell-Phillipps but which years ago, alas, was acquired in 
the United States. Not even in the early proof in the Bodleian Library 
do we see him with anything like such vivid appearance of truth, because 
not only is that a darker, heavier impression, but because it is besides 
a later * state ' of the plate. In this retouched condition we recognize 
in the worked-up forehead the beginnings of that * horrible hydro- 
cephalous development ', as Mr. Arthur Benson called it, which in the 
ordinary print as seen in the First Folio (and grossly exaggerated in the 
Fourth) has struck a chill sentiment of revolt into the hearts of genera 
tions of Shakespeare-lovers. In the manifest effort to add an appear 
ance of advancing years to what had been a picture of ripe adolescence, 
the inexperienced engraver impaired his plate and produced a portrait 
almost as wooden as the painted bust. The broad, massive fore 
head, with the hair growing naturally from the scalp, has here developed 
a defiant bulbousness and a shape tending towards the conical, with locks 
sprouting with strange suddenness, wig-like and artificial, from its side. 
The re-formed and altered eyebrows, the darkened pupils which for 
merly were fair, the distressing bagginess accentuated under the eyes, 
the enlarged moustache smudging the upper lip to the confines of the 
cheeks, the two-days' stubble added to the chin, the over-emphasized 
line marking the division of jaw and neck, the forced lights and shadows 
with consequent destruction of harmony and breadth of illumination 
these are further defects in the portrait by which Droeshout has made 
Shakespeare known to all the world. They divest the portrait most 
grievously of the appearance of life and of the largeness of nature which 
are such striking qualities in the plate as the engraver first completed 
and ' proved ' it. Nevertheless, and in spite of all, the eye of ordinary 
discernment can penetrate this screen of errors, and through the short 
comings of the artist recognize the life and nature which, with but 
indifferent success it is true, he has sought to realize and interpret. 

Nevertheless, to the unprejudiced beholder, this uncouth print, 
with all its imperfections * lamentable ', as Walpole pronounced it, 
as a work of art bears in its delineation the unmistakable stamp of 


truth. Ver Huell, 1 the enthusiastic biographer and critic of Houbraken 
and the extoller of his freely-rendered engraving the most popular of 
all the renderings of the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, admits that 
he was carried away by Droeshout's plate and was left cold by Hou 
braken 's masterpiece of the burin. * The head is fine/ says he, in his 
estimate of the Dutchman's prodigious performance, ' I might almost 
say too fine, and I greatly prefer to this idealized bust-piece Martin 
Droeshout's plate. There, indeed, we see the lineaments which so well 
realize the author of Romeo not less than of Julius Caesar. What 
nobility in the forehead ! with what feeling has the artist rendered 
the pensive and penetrating expression of the eyes and the gentle irony 
of a smile that is softened by the sweetness of his soul ! ' 

Can we doubt that it was for its general truth that the portrait 
was selected and published in the great Folio in spite of the artlessness 
of the art, the stiffness of the pose, and the hardness of the execution ? 
After all, there was no absolute necessity for the inclusion of a portrait 
at all. There was even available (if the claims made on its behalf 
could be accepted) the infinitely more romantic, more artistic, Italianate 
portrait which we call the Chandos. What merit other than that 
of invaluable authenticity could have constrained Shakespeare's 
associates and friends to preface his immortal works, which they were 
about to give to the world in so impressive a form, with an image so 
indifferently rendered an image clearly based on an original of the 
Hilliard or early Zuccaro type, almost c primitive ' in manner ? Surely 
the only motive and the sole justification for the adoption of such a 
plate was the recognized genuineness and authority of the record. 

Moreover, if we look critically at the two portraits the one put 
forth by the poet's admiring friends and fellow workers, and the other 
by his mourning family and fellow townsmen we find that in 
their main essentials they are in substantial agreement and therefore 
they corroborate one another. We must, of course, bear in mind the 
widely different circumstances attendant on the production of these 
portraits and the varied details characteristic of them : the difference 
of period how the one portrait represents the sitter in his early prime, 
and the other at the time of his death ; the difference of material how 
the one is sculptured roughly with the chisel in stone and intended to 
be viewed at a distance, the other cut in metal by the graver, to be 
printed on paper and scrutinized from a few inches away ; the difference 
of personality and outlook of the artists men of different craft, of 
1 Jacobtis Houbraken et son ceuvre, par A. Ver Hiiell, 1875. 


different individuality, and of difference in artistic conception which 
they brought to their different tasks. Their sole personal points of 
contact were that they shared weakness in technique and accomplish 
ment and that they were called to their work without having the 
inestimable advantage of sittings from the living model. We see in 
these two works, notwithstanding undoubted imperfections, the inter- 
confirmation of the great upright cranium, the straight nose, the large 
wide-open eyes, even the mode, retained by the poet throughout his 
life, of the moustache brushed upward and the mass of hair curling 
heavily over the ears. These two representations, then, support one 
another in their main essentials, in much the same manner and degree 
as Chantrey's bust and Raeburn's painted portrait of Sir Walter Scott 
confirm without exactly resembling one another, or, say, Nollekens's 
bust and Reynolds 's painting of Laurence Sterne. 

However great, therefore, the talent of artists may be, a painter's 
portrait and a sculptor's bust are rarely in exact agreement save in the 
salient items of resemblance, especially when years have elapsed between 
the production of the two likenesses. This is the more marked when 
unskilled hands have been at work most marked of all when the por 
traitists have been called upon to bring into existence a posthumous 
likeness. When, in the same art, we find two painters such as Nasmyth 
and Raeburn producing portraits of Robert Burns, at different ages, it 
is true, but so dissimilar that few persons at the first glance, or even at 
the second, would assert that the two pictures are supposed to represent 
one and the same man we cannot be surprised that the Stratford bust 
and the Droeshout plate confirm one another mainly on points of 
major importance and seem to differ only in superficial details and 

There is a touch of absurdity, or at least of oddness, in the well- 
nigh universal predilection displayed in favour of the Chandos portrait. 
That the majority should select for special adulation this rather swarthy 
face of foreign aspect, mainly in virtue of its relatively picturesque and 
romantic guise, is perhaps not wholly surprising in a majority. 
Moreover, it has the advantage over the two authentic portraits in 
that it represents an obviously living man humanly and naturally 
represented upon canvas. Even Burger was impressed by its ' refine 
ment and melancholy ' in spite of its lack of expression, and as a 
portrait he held it to be a pearl beyond price. But he, like the 
majority (who have called for at least a dozen reproductions of this 


portrait for each of those of truer value), took it blindly for granted 
that this placid, sombre, and rather weak-willed, amiable personage 
really pictures our English Shakespeare of pure midland stock. 

It is nothing to them, or very little, that the early history of this 
painting is more than suspect, and that the traditions woven round it 
as to origin and early ownership cannot withstand the test of strict 
investigation. The fact that demonstrably false witness has been 
borne as to the picture's source, and that fiction mars the tracing of its 
early passage from hand to hand that the chain of evidence comprises 
links which are not merely lamentably weak but which are sometimes 
found to be not really links at all has affected little, or scarcely at all, 
the popularity of the portrait. Too often the subject of grotesque per 
versions at the hands of engravers reckless and indifferent to truth and 
character, it has conquered the world, spreading in every land the 
queerest notion of the type of English manhood. 

This is not the occasion on which to enter any more closely than 
has here been done into the validity of the claims on public confidence 
of the Chandos portrait ; but the picture cannot be ignored, if only for 
the reason that the Chandos Shakespeare is undeniably the Shakespeare 
recognized by all men. It was even published in the form of engraving 
by the Shakespeare Society itself. The story that it belonged to D'Ave- 
nant (who, we are told, for the sake of his personal aggrandizement 
and self-conceit, claimed blood-kinship with his poet-godfather), has 
gone for much. The knowledge that Sir Godfrey Kneller made an 
impressive copy of it at the time when it was Betterton's, has gone for 
a good deal more. For it may well be assumed that Kneller, quintes 
sence of vanity as he was, would scarcely have demeaned his genius, 
of which he entertained so fantastic an opinion, by copying a mere 
fanciful picture which, without authenticity to justify it, could but dis 
honour his brush. Nor presumably would Dryden have prized it as 
he did prized it as Jonson loved Shakespeare, * on this side idolatry ' 
nor would he have apostrophized it with such an emphasis of rapture 
and admiration, had he known it for a copy of doubtful value. There 
is here, at least, sufficient evidence to show that not more than five-and- 
seventy years after Shakespeare's death the Chandos portrait was already 
held in high esteem and was respected as a record of presumably 
unchallenged truth. 

The reproduction in this Book of Homage of Kneller 's famous 
picture, now for the first time set before the public since it was painted 

Jleao from, dir bcdfrtuJ^ncUfr'j copy' <r tfL(> 
Lt Iza^Li 


two hundred and twenty-three years ago (in 1693), will certainly be 
welcomed as a matter of singular interest by all who unite to-day in 
offering tribute to Shakespeare's genius. To the owner of it, the Earl 
Fitzwilliam, who some years ago courteously permitted me to have 
the picture photographed, are due our thanks for the gratification with 
which the publication will be received. 

The portrait is much larger than the Chandos ; it is, indeed, a full 
half-length. The head seems, by its undoubted nobility, to justify 
Dry den's paean of praise and veneration in that Fourteenth Epistle of 
1694 with which he acknowledged and rewarded the painter's offering, 
in a masterpiece of super-flattery nicely adjusted to Kneller's vast 
powers of consumption. Who does not remember his lines ? 

4 Shakespear, thy Gift, I place before my sight ; 
With awe, I ask his Blessing ere I write ; 
With Reverence look on his Majestick Face ; 
Proud to be less, tho' of his Godlike Race. 
His Soul Inspires me, while thy Praise I write, 
And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight.' 

The face, which so far departs from that of the Chandos portrait 
as to add a dignity, almost a majesty (as Dryden truly says), quite 
unknown to the parent-picture, is surely a conception not unworthy 
to represent the creator of the Plays and Poems. It is not surprising 
that it should have fired John Dry den's imagination, still less that it 
should appeal with equal force to ours, seeing that the painter has 
plainly sought to improve the forms and to modify the Latin character 
of the original, in the light of Droeshout's print. 

It is true that the skull is not the skull figured by the Stratford bust 
and in the Folio print. Yet the forehead is now much more upright 
than in the Chandos picture, even though it is not yet perpen 
dicular enough ; the high cheek-bones have been lowered and brought 
inwards, whereby the face is become narrower and the corresponding 
projection of the contour reduced ; the nose is thinner and less aquiline, 
and the nostrils more refined in modelling, so that the whole feature 
approximates far more to that in the print. On the other hand, the 
cheeks have been hollowed and the mouth straightened, while the falling 
moustache belies the usual mode affected by the Poet and thus defies 
the tradition of the three portraits which could have served for guidance. 
Kneller then asserts himself ; he imparts to the eyes a look of intelli 
gence and elevated thought, and invests the whole with a general air 
of authority lamentably absent from the original. The result, in spite 


of all discrepancies, is a brave and skilful attempt, felicitously realized, 
the success made possible by consummate art, to render the Chandos 
portrait acceptable to the adherents of the more authoritative likeness 
of the Folio, and to conciliate, as well as art could do it, the objections 
of the critical. It is clearly a copy from this picture which Ranelagh 
Barret made for Edward Capell the portrait which generations of 
men have seen in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, and have 
criticized for its heavy-handed divarications from the Chandos original. 

Here, then, was expressed in the sincerest and most reverential 
manner possible to them, the homage paid severally by English Poetry 
and foreign Art of the seventeenth century to Shakespeare's memory 
in Shakespeare's person. In the spirit of the superlative admiration 
and esteem thus conveyed in Shakespeare's own century, we of the 
present, on the three hundredth anniversary of the day when the 
poet of all time lay down and slept, approach the altar of the world's 
gratitude and bring our offering of thanks and praise. We may muse 
upon his personality and picture to ourselves what manner of man was 
he in outward physical aspect. We can no longer hope to discover a 
new true portrait of him such as will confirm or correct the true authori 
tative likenesses we already have. With these we may rest content, 
for we recognize in their main indications the lineaments of the face 
which met the gaze of his own day, and the form of the massive head 
that gave lodging to the sovereign brain, mightiest in powers of humanity 
and art, that has enriched and ennobled the modern world. 



W.S. 1564-1616 

WHAT like wert thou, O Riddle of our race, 
Whose steadfast eye the mind of man could see, 

And, by excess of intuition, trace 
In the rude germ its full maturity ? 

Thou, ' of imagination all compact ', 
Alone among thy fellows, could 'st ally 

The thought and word, the impulse and the act, 
Cause and effect, unerringly. But why ? 

Who shall make answer ? To our ken a shade, 
Thou for whom souls lay open art as dark 

As shapeless phantoms of the night that fade 
With daybreak and the singing of the lark. 

Men may explore thy Secret still, yet thou, 
Serene, unsearchable, above them all, 

Look'st down, as from some lofty mountain-brow, 
And art thyself thine own Memorial. 




Fresh from letters of Shakespearian friends, and sadly wondering how 
in this War of Nations our immortal Poet would come to his meed of honour, 
after three hundred years of mission over the globe, I chanced to raise my 
eyes to my library wall, whereon there hangs the Arundel copy of RaphaeVs 
fresco of Parnassus in the Stanza of the Vatican. There Apollo with his 
lyre holds a conclave of the Muses, round whom are gathered the poets of all 
ages, whilst blind old Homer chants the Wrath of Achilles and the Burial 
of Hector, his brother Bards standing wrapt in admiration and awe. 

So musing and wandering in thought, I fell asleep in my easy chair and 
dreamed. And this was my Dream. 


THE Muse Melpomene, with a crown of vine-leaves holding a tragic 
mask, seemed enthroned on the sacred Mount of Inspiration. Beside 
her was Thaleia, having a comic mask and a wreath of ivy : both presided 
at the altar on which I saw a tripod of gold inscribed TW v^io-rca. 

Around and below the Muses was gathered a throng, whose noble 
countenances seemed to be those of familiar friends, and their stately 
robes denoted various races, manners, and ages. All seemed to be 
leading towards the altar, that he might receive the tripod, one whom 
I recognized at once by his lofty forehead, trim beard, flowing locks, and 
his air of serene thought. He seemed to shrink from their attentions, 
bewildered almost by their praises, as one hardly worthy of such a prize. 

The Muse with a gesture was inviting those around her to express 
their suffrages in order that by general consent she might award the 
honour to the most fit. She pointed first to a noble old man with bald 
head and venerable beard, deep sad eyes, and the shrunken limbs of 
a mighty veteran in arms. The aged warrior stood forth, and I heard 


his solemn voice that rang through the assembly as if he had been Isaiah 
the son of Amoz calling out to the people of Zion. 

* Fair Goddess/ he said, * the golden tripod is his of right, in these 
latter days of wildly-whirring poesy. The old order changeth. In very 
truth and no longer in fable, the whole earth reels and quakes. In old 
times a tragedy was an act of public worship. We gave the people 
Hymns of Valour and Psalms of contrition for sin. But the ancient 
Gods and Heroes of seven- foot stature whom we knew are no more. 
To-day the new generations have thoughts and pleasures, knowledge 
and interests, that we old soldiers could not share and are ready to cast 
aside. I have learnt that ours was but a petty corner of the earth : our 
fears, our hopes, our joys, our loves never roamed over the vast world 
they tell me is now open to men a world of which I had but some dim 
vision, but enough to revolt my very soul. I am too old to learn this new 
way. I had no heart to mingle Beauty and Mirth with the catastrophes 
of Fate and the agonies of the Soul which swept through my brain. 
Let me go back to my lonely seat, where I rest musing on the glories 
and the faith of Hellas. The prizes of life are for those who are happy 
and who are young.' 

Then there stepped up to him the most beautiful and the most 
graceful of elders, having the sweetest voice ever uttered by man. 

* We too ', he said, * yield willingly the prize of tragedy to this youth. 
Our ancient world is past. We love to recall how beautiful it was. We 
hope they now enjoy a world as beautiful and as sunlit as was our rare 
City of the violet crown. As our glorious Chief has said, we who lived 
to celebrate our radiant Athene could ill bear the tumultuous trumpet- 
ings, of which we catch faint echoes in our Islands of the Blessed. If 
we ever sought to touch the deepest nerves of sympathetic hearts by 
tales of agony and guilt, we would ever relieve the tension at intervals 
with soft melodies and ethereal raptures. We are told now of genera 
tions of men built of sterner mould, who have no need of the rest given 
by choral visions of pure delight. They say they have other kinds of rest 
and of relief ; nor do they mind if Pindaric rhapsodies are thrust into 
the midst of hot action and visible horrors. To us Beauty, Dignity, and 
Grace were Divine gifts too precious to be forborne for an hour, even 
in the midst of the most tragic peripeteia. Let us trust these will never 
be forgotten in the multitudinous blare of Modern Art.' 

* Why ! ' called out aloud a nobly bearded Chief who thrust himself 
boldly before the elder pair, * Did I not tell you that the " grand air >: 
and obsolete sublimities would weary any public really up-to-date ? 


I was myself a prophet of " modernity ", of the " new woman ", of the 
" real man ". That youth from the Island of the West only followed 
my lead of realism and of romance. I vote for him, for he quite freed 
the world of your Marathonian conventions and superstitious mysteries.' 

* Ah ! my old anarchist friend/ cried out a jovial reveller who had 
been making mouths at the last speaker behind a comic mask, ' Yes ! 
you opened new ways indeed ; but you have yet to prove that it was 
opened in the right way. To make the Gods chop logic and to turn 
heroes into street beggars would vulgarize, not modernize, Art. I too 
vote for the young one, who still seems unaware how close he is to some 
old friends. His virago Queen might kill her Sovereign but not her 
own babies, nor did she mount up off the stage to heaven in a dragon car. 
And when he brought on a veteran King in rags, the poor old man was 
not a disguised Hero but stark mad, and yet withal he felt himself to be 
and he looked it every inch a King. There was nothing sordid in his 

* Again, gracious Ladies, let me add that our friend here wears his 
comic wreath just as well as his tragic wreath. None of us old fellows 
ever pretended to wear both. He alone has mingled both : he made 
Mirth and Terror Fantasy and Reality join in one irresistible dance 
of glorious life. I never tried my hand at Terror or Pity, just as old 
Marathon there never touched the lyre of Mirth or the scourge of Satire. 
Our candidate for the supreme prize joined Awe and Loveliness, Mirth 
and Horror, Fun and Fantasy ; making both embrace to the begetting 
of a radiant progeny of immortal sons and daughters that shall outlive 
Time. Him, O ye divine mistresses of the Mount of Inspiration, 
O ye bards of fame and name him I proclaim to be in truth 

' Euge ! Optime ! ' called out an Imperial Roman in his toga 
marked with a broad purple band, looking for all the world like a Nero 
in melodrama ; ' surely, the gentle youth only adopted and developed 
my scheme of Art. They often tell me that I was too fond of violence, 
of blood, of stage surprises ; that I relied too much on oratory, 
machinery, and ghosts. Ah ! sweet Goddesses of a gentler race, you, 
I trust, never saw a Roman tribunal nor an amphitheatre, nor ever heard 
a Roman mob yell over a hecatomb of gladiators. I only gave them what 
they loved. Our young friend's " general " public would have blood 
too enjoyed a stage heaped with corpses, and I dare say forced him to 
show them tortures, monsters, and ghosts enough. He had to do what 
I did to please them rather than myself. And he used, as so many 


other later poets did, not a few of the inventions they all borrowed 
from me.' 

Now here I noticed a group of poets standing together and quite 
apart, whose elaborate costumes and air of superior refinement seemed 
to mark them out as masters of some special culture. Two of them had 
a mien of almost religious solemnity, whilst two others seemed to beam 
with keen wit and native humour. With the measured cadences of 
a speech of subtle modulation and an air of studious courtesy, the 
younger of the foremost pair stood forth and spoke thus. 

' Our humble obeisance to the August Ladies who so graciously 
preside over us to-day ! In our time we sought to maintain in all things 
the superb manner of the Grand Monarch we served and of the elegant 
society whose favour we enjoyed. Even in the hour of deepest passion, 
we felt that deportment must not be forgotten. High Art means tone, 
a harmony of colour, just balance of values, imperturbable self-restraint. 
We hear that in the new age these essentials have been too little prized. 
Alas ! we know that our ancient dynasty is no more. Republicans and 
heretics have it all their own way. A new world, they cry, demands a 
new Art. Be it so ! We shall not dispute their claim. Culture has its 
own world still : and there it has more crowns than it can wear with 
grace and ease in an age of tumult and change.' 

' There is no need to retire/ called out a rasping voice behind the 
last speaker, and I saw one thrust himself forward, one whose curled 
wig, lace frill and ruffles, eye of hawk and biting lips seem the embodi 
ment of an entire age. * The ancients can never be dethroned,' he 
cried ; ' good manners, sense, truth, realities can never be displaced by 
extravagance, brutalities, and the ravings of genius run mad.' 

Then I saw the last speaker roughly pulled back by a passionate 
orator with the voice of a sea-captain on his quarter-deck in a gale. 
He shouted out : * Romance, Nature, Passion rule this age : the fetters 
of old times are broken : Democracy has triumphed : and the life of 
democrats is cast in a world of variety, tumult, and spasm. All hail to 
our immortal master, who shows us humanity freed from the bonds of 
antique superstition ! ' 

I saw too a venerable poet in a Spanish cloak of the Renascence, 
whose towering front, pointed beard, and flowing locks might recall to 
us our own poet had he lived to reach some eighty years. He stood 
apart, spoke low, but he beamed a look of agreement and welcome. 
When appealed to by others for his vote, he said simply : * I too accept 
your verdict, though I belong to a different world of thought, of manners, 



and of faith. Those whom I knew, they who knew me, had ways of 
their own, their own ideals to worship, their own honour to guard. 
It was to glorify these that I laboured. There is room for us 
all, if each of us in truth holds fast to himself, his people, and his 

Little too was said by another whose Roman features I could not 
forget, having seen them carved in marble on his tomb in Santa Croce. 
' The world has passed on far beyond me and the heroes and demigods 
with whom I held converse in spirit. Republican as I am by my reason, 
I stand fast by all that is heroic, noble, and proud. There is no field for 
us of the Old Guard now. We leave to you the field of the new world of 
which we know so little, to whose favours we so rarely aspire.' And he 
wrapped around his noble head the martial cloak he wore, and he with 
drew as if he had been Julius as he fell at the base of the Statue of 

And now the Muse, beaming on our poet, seemed to be inviting 
him to come forward to receive the prize, so clearly awarded by the 
general voice of his brother bards. Then there stepped forth a truly 
magnificent personage, whose grand countenance might serve for the 
Olympian Zeus of Pheidias, albeit he wore the civilian dress of a modern 

* Gracious Ladies and brother Spirits,' he said, * our friend here is 
still so much overcome by the welcome he has received that he shrinks 
from attempting to express his thanks in person, and he begs me to 
speak in his name. As we two sate apart communing together on the 
boundless range of our Art, he assures me that he was hardly conscious 
of intending all the profound ideas that his friends of the later times 
have discovered for him. He vows that he never put himself personally 
to his audience at all, and yet they now try to make him out a dozen 
different men rolled into one. He says that he never enjoyed such 
training, nor pretended to such learning, as have those who have spoken 
in his honour. His life had given him little leisure for study, nor was 
he free to work out in ease all his thoughts, as he would have desired. 
He was a servant of his Sovereign, a humble member of a working 
guild, and the simple minister to the enjoyments of the gallants and good 
fellows of his time. How many a page, he almost moaned out to me 
in our private talks, he would have torn up, blotted out, or re-written, 
if he ever had any sort of idea that his too hurried words would be 
remembered by any but those who first heard them in public. Once 
or twice in his life, he says, he did deliberately revise and publish to the 


world some pieces of his work to which his whole soul was given. Too 
often, he now learns, his compositions have been impudently plundered, 
grossly misread, and carelessly printed. His short life has been one of 
storm and stress, of jollity and good fellowship, of lightning work to 
meet peremptory calls which his official duties would not suffer him to 
neglect. Too often, he assures me, his name had been used to cover 
that which was none of his. So conscious is he of this, and that even 
some of his own was far from his best, that he wishes me to speak in his 

* Let me add one word more. All of those who have spoken to-day 
lived long lives of ease and devotion to their art : all but one of them 
lived to an honoured old age. Such was not the lot of our friend, who 
ended his bodily life, after years of trouble and of labour, much earlier 
than they. And when he gave up his daily task of supplying incessant 
new matter for his colleagues, and had withdrawn in the maturity of his 
powers to his native town, where he might recast all that he cared to 
leave to the future then by a sudden stroke he came to an unexpected 
end. It was for this reason that his work has needed such generations 
of interpreters and commentators of which my own countrymen, we 
are proud to believe, have been the most generous and the most indus 
trious. We all hail him but for the negligible accident of his birth 
to be one of our own most cherished glories.' 

* Sir ! ' called out a burly figure in a short wig, surrounded by 
a group of admiring friends and the big man spoke with the voice of 
one who never suffered contradiction * Sir ! you are quite right to 
admit that our poet was not always at his best vein, and did sometimes 
forget common-sense, nature, and plain speech. We have quite cleared 
up these occasional slips at home, whilst our foreign friends have made 
mountains out of molehills. And as to the " accident of birth "/ he 
said to a short man, with a singularly speaking countenance, whose 
arm he held, * why ! Davy, we of the West Midlands think it no 
" accident " at all. Sir ! it is the hub of this world, and our man is its 

Here I noticed a somewhat hectic youth with a big head and a shock 
of red hair, call out in a thin shrill voice * No ! I will not allow a word 
of his to be wrong. It was all so sublime, ineffable, ecstatic ! ' But his 
passionate utterance was lost in the tide of applause from the throng 
that pressed on behind him. They came on in their thousands, bearing 
the standards of their nations. I could see the Tricolour in many bands 
and of many colours, some upright, some crosswise, the Stars and 

C 2 


Stripes, Black Eagles, Lions, Strange Beasts even the Dragon and 
the Chrysanthemum flag. Long serried ranks of the Poets of all ages, 
races, and speech, poured on in troops that seemed unending. All by 
voice and gesture invited the Muse to confer on him the Golden 

But here my Dream ended as Dreams do end just as the great award 
was about to be made. 



To other voices, other majesties, 
Removed this while, Peace shall resort again. 
But he was with us in our darkest pain 
And stormiest hour : his faith royally dyes 
The colours of our cause ; his voice replies 
To all our doubt, dear spirit ! heart and vein 
Of England 's old adventure ! his proud strain 
Rose from our earth to the sea-breathing skies. 

Even over chaos and the murdering roar 

Comes that world- winning music, whose full stops 

Sounded all man, the bestial and divine; 

Terrible as thunder, fresh as April drops ! 

He stands, he speaks, the soul-transfigured sign 

Of all our story, on the English shore. 




As the editor of this volume tells me it is desired to include in it 
stray thoughts jotted down without the formality of an essay, even if 
they do no more than suggest some points or lines of thought on which 
readers may agree with or differ from the writer, I have put down a few 
such points. One of them has often been noted, but it may be noted 
again, because it comes more and more back to whoever, in reading 
other great poets, cannot help comparing them to Shakespeare. He is 
the one among them all who least bears the imprint of a particular time 
or a particular local environment. Many critics have proved to their 
own satisfaction that he could only have been an Englishman of the 
sixteenth century. Heinrich Heine's famous dictum notwithstanding, 
we can all bring plenty of arguments to show that Shakespeare's genius 
was an English genius, in the legitimate line of English poetical develop 
ment, with Chaucer before him, with Milton and Dry den and many 
another after him, however much he surpassed them all. Nevertheless, 
the fact remains that we can quite well think of him as detached from 
any age or country in a sense in which we cannot so think of Dante 
or Ariosto, Milton or Moliere or Goethe. And with this goes the fact 
that there is no great writer whose personal character and tastes and 
likings we can so little determine from his writings. We cannot even 
tell whether he had any, and what, political opinions. There is nothing 
to indicate, or even to furnish material for conjecturing, what religious 
doctrines he held a thing more remarkable in his time than it would 
be in ours. Many ingenious attempts have been made to fix upon 
particular passages as conveying views that were distinctively his own, 
but when all is said and done how little positive result remains. We 
do not even know what places he had visited nor what he had read, 
nor what poets had influenced him. He knew some Latin, but in the 
Roman plays there is no trace of Virgil or Lucan. There is but little 
trace in Troilus and Cressida of Homer, except in the character of 
Thersites, probably inspired by Chapman's translation of the Iliad. 


The story is of course post-classical, but the action is laid in Troy. 
Was he ever at Dover, where men gathered samphire on the cliffs ? 
Had he ever seen the misty mountain tops at dawn ? The Malvern hills, 
not visible from Stratford, were the nearest hills one could call mount 
ains, though by no means lofty. (So one may ask whether Bunyan's 
Delectable Mountains in the Pilgrim's Progress were the chalk downs 
of Bedfordshire.) Or did his imagination vivify what he had heard of 
as readily as what he had seen ? His mind seems to mirror everything 
alike, as the surface of his gently flowing Avon mirrors whirling clouds 
and blue sky, the noonday rays and the dying glow of sunset. 

This detachment, this habit of presenting all types of character, all 
phases of life and forms of passion, with the same impartial insight, 
may perhaps be said to belong to every great dramatist. It is the drama 
tist's business. Moliere is an example. Yet each of the other great 
dramatists has provided us with better data for guessing at what he 
was himself than Shakespeare has done. In him the intellect is strikingly 
individual in its way of thinking and its way of expressing thought, but 
it is all developed from within, having caught up very little from time 
or place, and it seems somehow distinct from the man, as others saw 
him moving about in the daily life of London or Warwickshire. 
We recognize now and then in other poets something that we call 
Shakespearian because it reminds us of Shakespeare's peculiar forms 
of expression. But this distinctive quality in his thought and style, 
marked though it is, does not reveal the man ; perhaps not even in the 
Sonnets, which seem, if one may venture an opinion on so controversial 
a subject, to be rather dramatic than personal. 

Dante has an amazing range of thought and power of making his 
characters live, but how intensely personal he is ! So also not to speak 
of men like Horace or Pope, who weave themselves into the texture of 
their verse so is Lucretius, so are Petrarch, Milton, Wordsworth, 
Goethe, Shelley, Byron, Leopardi, and in less measure Pindar and 
Virgil. We feel as if we could get near them and imagine them as they 
were in life. Of all the great imaginative works, those which are likest 
to Shakespeare's in this impersonality of the author, this supreme gift 
of seeing all phases of life and presenting them all with the same fidelity 
to the infinite variety of nature, are the Homeric poems and especially 
the Iliad. (Think of Nestor and Achilles, Priam and Andromache.) 
There is in those poems something of what one may call (if the apparent 
contradiction be permissible) the sympathetic aloofness of Shakespeare. 
His aloofness is neither cold nor cynical : it is the detachment needed 


for an observation which sees calmly, and therefore can mete out equal 
justice to all that it sees. 

One is tempted to connect with this detached attitude in Shake 
speare his apparent indifference to fame. A poet's want of interest in 
the fate of his own work is so rare that it might lead us to fancy that 
he did not know how good that work was. (Read and consider what 
Robert Browning says about him in Bishop Blougram's Apology.) Is 
there any parallel in the great masters of literature to this indifference ? 
Can it be explained by the spontaneity and seeming absence of effort 
with which he composed, as if this made him feel that there could be 
nothing wonderful in what came to him so easily ? Did he enjoy the 
process of creation so much as not to care what happened to the product 
when the process was over ? Or are we to think that that sense of the 
insignificance and transitoriness of all human things, which is every 
now and then discerned as an undercurrent of his thought, extended 
itself to his own work ? When the time came when he had no longer 
occasion to write, did he, like Prospero, break his wand, with no sigh 
of regret ? 

We shall never exhaust the Shakespearian problems. A time may 
come when scholars will be much more nearly agreed than they are now 
as to which of the plays, or which parts of the doubtful plays, are really 
from his hand, just as scholars are more agreed now than they were 
seventy years ago as to the date and authorship of most of the books 
of the New Testament. But the questions we ask about the relation of 
the genius to the man will remain, and may be no nearer solution when 
the next centenary arrives. 



THERE are few, probably, who have not derived from Shakespeare's 
writings at least some part of the inspiration of their lives, and have not 
found in his wise words practical encouragement in times of difficulty 
and distress. In these anxious days, when the whole power of England 
and its Allies is engaged in the defence of liberty and justice, no words 
of any modern writer could light the fires of national pride and devotion 
as do Shakespeare's lofty expressions of patriotism and affection for his 

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle. 

The thought of the great and ever-watchful fleet, to which we owe 
to-day so much, recalls the lines, 

O, do but think, 

You stand upon the rivage, and behold 
A city on the inconstant billows dancing, 
For so appears this fleet majestical. 

Whilst to those who are able and yet hesitate to take up the burden of 
the struggle the poet seems to say, 

Who is he, whose chin is but enriched 
With one appearing hair, that will not follow 
Those call'd and choice-drawn cavaliers to France ? 

But probably it is the personal debt that we owe to the inspiring words 
of the * immortal bard ' that draws us to him and demands our individual 
homage. Speaking for myself, I confess that I owe to the penetrating 
fire of his verse more than I can say. I was fortunate enough in my early 
days to have my lot cast in a school where by long tradition a play of 
Shakespeare was acted each year, and I well remember the effect of the 
atmosphere we breathed during the weeks of preparation, when the 
rhythm of the Poet's incomparable language was always ringing in our 
ears. Alas ! at least in my opinion modern requirements have caused 
this annual feast of Shakespearian poetry to be discontinued, and in 


its place is possibly substituted some play, studied like the classic of 
a past age. 

In reality Shakespeare should never be regarded as the poet of past 
times. His position in the world of letters is similar to that of Dante. 
What must strike any observer who lives in Italy is the influence exerted 
by the latter over the people, even in these days. His verses seem to 
come to their lips on every occasion as the truest expression of their 
inmost feelings. It should be the same with us in regard to Shakespeare, 
for his words aptly give form to almost every lofty thought, even in our 
days. Why this is so is clear. His poems do not merely express the 
peculiar sentiments of the age in which they were written ; nor describe 
only characters with which we are no longer familiar. They are for 
every age : and for this reason, because they represent nature as it is 
at all times. * Nothing ', wrote Dr. Johnson, ' can please many, and 
please long, but just representations of general nature.' And in applying 
this truth to Shakespeare he says that he ' is above all writers, at least 
above all modern writers, the poet of nature ; the poet that holds up 
to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life. His characters 
are not modified by the customs of particular places, unpractised by 
the rest of the world. . . . They are the genuine progeny of common 
humanity, such as the world will always supply, and observation will 
always find. His persons act and speak by the influence of those general 
passions and principles by which all minds are agitated and the whole 
system of life is continued in motion. In the writings of other poets 
a character is too often an individual ; in those of Shakespeare, it is 
commonly a species.' 

This explains the attraction which the immortal works of our great 
national poet has for us to-day, and it is the fundamental reason for the 
willing homage we pay to his genius. 

My special admiration for his plays and poems is based, too, on 
other considerations. I am astonished at the accurate knowledge he 
displays of the moral teachings and doctrines of the Church. His ethics 
are irreproachable. Conscience, according to Shakespeare's philosophy, 
is man's supreme guide ; God's law should be the rule of his life. Man's 
free will, strengthened by prayer and God's grace, can master his lower 
nature and enable him to rise to better things and gain for him an ever 
lasting reward. His whole conception of the dignity and position of 
man is lofty and true. Indeed, one of the most beautiful and accurate 
expressions of the Christian life to be found in any lay writer occurs in 
Sonnet CXLVI. 


To Shakespeare man's nature is complex. If his soul can reach into 
the unseen world, his body is but of the earth and has appetites in 
common with the beasts. How clearly, for example, Hamlet puts this 
teaching : * What a piece of work is a man ! How noble in reason ! how 
infinite in faculty ! in form, in moving, how express and admirable ! 
in action how like an angel ! in apprehension how like a god ! the 
beauty of the world ! the paragon of animals ! ' 

Or again : how clearly the poet states his belief in the existence of 
the immortal soul that man holds from God, and in the responsibility 
he incurs on this account : 

What is man, 

If his chief good and market of his time 
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more. 

Then as to morality in general : however coarse the poet may 
appear to us at times, in words, jests, or insinuations, according to the 
manner of his age, no professed moralist could be more severe on vice 
than he shows himself in his poetry. To him God is no mere abstract 
force or principle, but the Almighty Creator of all things, who has a 
personal care of all who have come from His hands. He is the * high 
all-seer ' and has countless eyes to view men's acts. He is omniscient ; 
knows when we are falsely accused ; never slumbers nor sleeps ; reads 
the hearts of men, and in Heaven * sits a Judge, that no king can corrupt '. 
He is our Father, cares for the aged, feeds the ravens and caters for the 
sparrow. He is the widow's * champion and defence ' ; is the * upright, 
just, and true disposing God ' ; is the one supreme appeal ' God above 
deal between thee and me '. He is the guardian of the night, * when the 
searching eye of heaven is hid ', &c. He 

To believing souls 
Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair. 

Mercy is His attribute : * 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest ', and His mercy 
constrains us to be merciful to our brethren. All human duties and 
obligations are founded on our duty to Him. Kings and all in authority 
are His deputies and ministers. Man and wife are united in Him, and 
therefore marriage is indissoluble. This great God, too, is the Lord 
of armies. 

O ! thou, whose captain I account myself, 
Look on my forces with a gracious eye; 
Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath. 
That they may crush down with a heavy fall 


The usurping helmets of our adversaries. 
Make us thy ministers of chastisement, 
That we may praise thee in thy victory! 
To thee I do commend my watchful soul, 
Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes ; 
Sleeping and waking! O defend me still! 

Instances might be multiplied almost indefinitely of the true, solid 
teaching on Christian faith and morals which is to be found in Shake 
speare's plays and poems. If only for this reason I gladly bow in homage 
to him for his imperishable work. 

But my admiration and reverence for his name are strengthened 
by his very reticence, for what he might have said under the peculiar 
circumstances of the times in which he lived and did not say. In the 
* spacious days ' o Queen Elizabeth, and at the beginning of the seven 
teenth century, the clergy as a class, with the monks and nuns of the 
old religion, were not popular. The friar, the monk, and the priest were 
at this time considered to be fair game for the coarse jest and ribald 
witticism of poet and playwright. To attack their fair name would have 
been to tickle the ears of the crowd. Yet we may search the plays of 
Shakespeare through and through, and not find any such trait. On the 
contrary, the liberality of his treatment of the clergy is apparent every 
where, and even his sympathy is evidenced in more than one instance. 
A striking example of this is to be seen in his play of King John, not so 
much by what he wrote as by what he omitted to write. It is certain 
that in this play he revised the old play of The Troublesome Reign of 
King John, which contains a ribald scene describing the ransacking 
of an abbey. Shakespeare deliberately omitted this scene in re-casting 
the play. That it must have been deliberate we can hardly doubt, since 
he makes few such omissions. Here, then, the poet had an opportunity 
of appealing to the coarse tastes of his age and of ingratiating himself 
with all who desired to blacken the reputations of those who belonged 
to the * old order ', and refused to take it. We can see in the works of 
some of his contemporaries, such as Greene in his Friar Bacon, or 
Marlowe in his Jew of Malta, what excellent capital for popularity 
he set aside as unworthy of his muse. 

In the same way, in dealing with English history, it is remarkable 
that he left on one side subjects which might have purchased popularity. 
The overthrow of the Papal authority, as it was treated in the anonymous 
play of The Troublesome Reign of King John, or in The Faerie Queene ; 
the gunpowder plot, as used by Ben Jonson in his Catiline ; the destruc 
tion of the Armada, as treated by Dekker ; the glorification of Elizabeth, 


as added by Fletcher to Henry VIII, were all subjects which would 
certainly lend themselves to catching the popular sentiment, and which we 
can have no doubt were of set purpose left on one side by Shakespeare. 
This deliberate silence, therefore, and this refusal to bid for popularity 
by joining in the chorus of defamation of the past so freely indulged 
in by other writers of his day, in my opinion raises Shakespeare to a 
pedestal high above, not merely his contemporaries, but above even such 
illustrious men as Spenser and Milton. If we grant that it was aesthetics, 
and high art rather than ethics which counselled him to take this course, 
even this does not detract from the largeness of mind which preserved 
him from the temptation to pander to the prejudices of the time. 

For this reason, too, I honour and reverence the memory of this 
great poet, and am pleased to respond to this call for homage. 







ONE thing to-day 

For England let us pray 

That, when this bitterness of blood is spent, 

Out of the darkness of the discontent 

Perplexing man with man, poor pride with pride, 

Shall come to her, and loverly abide, 

Sure knowledge that these lamentable days 

Were given to death and the bewildered praise 

Of dear young limbs and eager eyes forestilled, 

That in her home, where Shakespeare's passion grew 

From song to song, should thrive the happy-willed 

Free life that Shakespeare drew. 




' To one that knew nothing of Christian beliefs ', said Lafcadio 
Hearn, * the plays of Shakespeare must remain incomprehensible.' For 
religion lays bare the heart of a nation, even as it shapes its law and 
custom. Carry le has anticipated the interpreter of Japan. * In some 
sense ', he allows, * this glorious Elizabethan era with its Shakespeare, 
as the outcome and flowerage of all which had preceded it, is itself 
attributable to the Catholicism of the Middle Ages. The Christian 
Faith, which was the theme of Dante's song, had produced this Practical 
Life which Shakespeare was to sing.' Hence the supreme poet could 
never be a Puritan. The question is not so much personal to the man 
of Stratford-on-Avon, whether he conformed to the Church by law 
established or stood out as a recusant. We pay homage to something 
larger and deeper than the individual who has become its mouthpiece 
during all future days ; we recognize the genius, rightly so termed, 
that sums up and for ever crystallizes an otherwise extinct world by 
means of him. Therefore, to quote Carlyle once more, he is * the 
noblest product ' of Catholicism ; but, I hasten to add, he appears 
amid the splendours kindled by a new morning, by the Renaissance, 
of a literature no longer mediaeval. There is, then, a Catholic strain 
in Shakespeare, crossing and entangling the modern, with remarkable 

Elizabethan drama rose out of the mystery and morality plays of 
which the origin must be sought in the Roman Mass. Their aim was 
distinctly religious, while Scripture and the legends of the Saints fur 
nished their matter. Shakespeare, taking a wider scope and setting 
history on the stage, did, nevertheless, contrive in Macbeth an instance 
of the * morality ' made perfect ; for, with a depth and directness 
never surpassed, it reveals the law of conscience avenging itself on guilt 
by an inward working. The witches and their shows are but a phantasm ; 


the chief agent of doom is the sinner, sicklied or driven mad under 
stress of self-accusation. Richard III, not so profound, discovers con 
science in the persons and events that visibly at last bear down on the 
culprit and smite him before battle. So far, the colouring is Christian 
rather than simply Catholic. But what I may term the atmosphere of 
Romeo and Juliet, of the Merchant of Venice, and the Comedies, 
their warmth, ease, and grace of movement, so unmistakably Italian, 
would vanish away if we took from them the religious background; 
and this must be mediaeval, since it was neither Pagan nor Puritan. 
Not many years later its glow was gone. If we reflect upon the secret 
of living art, which is as little antiquarian as it is prophetic afar off, we 
shall feel that the Catholic past in England, its continuation in Italy, 
afforded just the perspective in time and space that Shakespeare needed 
to hold the mirror up to nature. Even his Roman plays strike home 
by virtue of this ever fresh quality. It comes out in Henry VIII, 
if we grant that Shakespeare is the author of Queen Katharine's 
speeches ; to my mind, A Winter's Tale, As You Like It, and Twelfth 
Night, bear each a character derived from long Catholic usage now 
passing into Renaissance forms. Henry V is a crusader in spirit ; 
in Henry VI, spiteful as it is against Joan of Arc, we light upon the 
prophecy, now fulfilled, that the Maid shall take the place of St. Denis 
and inspire the armies of France. In King John, which reads 
fiercely anti-Papal, the poet has omitted from his revised copy a scene 
that dishonoured monasticism. He chants, too, with a pathos not un 
touched by reminiscence of its fall, the * bare ruined choirs, where 
late the sweet birds sang '. His Friar Lawrence lingers in our thoughts 
of Verona 's lovers, as a purely human, even all too human, figure. But 
the grandest of his Catholic creations lives in Measure for Measure. 
The * votarist of Saint Clare ', Isabella, remains * a thing enskied and 
sainted ' among the heavy shadows of vice, hypocrisy, or scepticism, 
hanging over this difficult drama. Was her name a family tradition ? 
Isabella Shakespeare, to whom the Stratford house claimed kinship, 
had once been Prioress of the Benedictine cloister at Wroxall. Measure 
for Measure, as a story of the * Virgin- Martyr ', is painfully impressive 
by its insistence on law which cannot be broken. Its theme, from 
the earliest ages familiar to Catholic ears, holds in it a transcendent 

I was once asked whether in Shakespeare's plays any reference 
could be found in praise of the Madonna, our Lady St. Mary. There 
is one, I think, in All 's Well that Ends Well, which Dante himself 


might have signed. The Countess, grieving over Bertram, her wayward 
son, cries out, 

What angel shall 

Bless this unworthy husband ? He cannot thrive, 
Unless her prayers, whom Heaven delights to hear, 
* And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath 
Of greatest justice. Act III, Sc. iv. 

None but the Queen of Angels, as the Litany of Lore to invokes her, 
can be thought of under such high language as able by prayer to * re 
prieve ' a sinful soul. Surely it is not Helena, though a pilgrim to 
St. James of Compostella, whom these words fit. Or, if so, they are 
significant of a loftier faith where the full scope and grandeur of them 
had been long acclaimed by Christendom. But other lines bearing the 
mystic seal occur to me ; as, for instance, when we read in Macbeth 
of * the Lord's anointed temple ', and how sacrilege has stolen thence 

* the life of the building '. Catholic dogma will turn imagery like this 
to its profit, to the hidden life of Christ in the tabernacle, and to the 
sanctuaries which were violated in a day of rebuke and blasphemy. 
It does not follow that Shakespeare had these outrages in mind, but 
they darkened the history of a time only just gone by. Like Virgilian 
currents of suggestion, the pensive sayings in which our dramatist 
abounds bear us to many shores. At length we come with Shakespeare 
into the open sea where all the winds are struggling ; we reach the 
incoherence of Hamlet and Lear's pessimism, on which from Prosperous 
fairy island the pale sunshine falls as in a dream. 

The ' incoherence of Hamlet ' is the play itself. No Puritan half 
way house can be seen anywhere ; but the Catholic faith in Purgatory, 
penance, sacraments, judgement, is here at death-grips with a sceptical 
doubt, the very heart of the prince who knows not how to flee from his 
own question. It is Kant's Dream of a Ghost-seer, flung into drama 
with unheard-of magnificence and equal melancholy ages before the 
philosopher, but a forecast which was beginning to be realized even 
while Shakespeare wrote. Faith has become a point of interrogation ; 
nothing stands sure ; love and life take us in if we trust them ; and 

* the rest is silence '. Acute critics have detected in what I will call the 
pessimist dramas, Hamlet , Measure for Measure, Othello, Lear, and even 
The Tempest, an influence which they charge to Montaigne, the French 

* captain of the band '. It may be thus ; but ' der Geist, der stets ver- 
neint ', the Everlasting No, walked about London streets, when he 
was not haunting a Gascon squire at home. The fall of a universal 



religion in many lands must have brought forth a doubt such as attends 
on earthquake. Europe has been asking of its wisest ever since, * Canst 
thou minister to a mind diseased ? ' Hamlet is * Everyman '. And King 
Lear outdoes the meditative Dane, with his frenzied shriek, the last word 
of anarchism : 

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, 
They kill us for their sport. 

But I will make my bow to Prospero, sometime Duke of Milan, Catholic 
and Italian, a beautiful old man, magician and father of Miranda, whom 
I have known since I was a lad of six, and now I revere him as the master 
of dreams which the crowd calls science, but I glimpses of God's angels 
moving the wide universe. Hamlet will not always be incoherent. 
The all-embracing Catholic Faith, out from whence our Shakespeare 
came, looks upon him as its child of genius, with starry eyes and a heart 
deep as man's deepest sorrow which is not to have found his God. 
He will find, for he has suffered. And, by the miracle that yet is to be 
wrought, Hamlet's incoherence will turn in that day to the * marriage 
of true minds ', when Faith weds with Life, and Love with Knowledge. 




THOUGHTS about Shakespeare cannot pretend to be new. There 
fore it is enough that the thoughts of us all should be practised rather 
than spoken. It might, for example, be insolent for any man to say 
that Shakespeare is a magnificent humourist for every age, yet to the 
thinking of our age a very tedious wit ; but the man who would not 
venture to say this aloud knows his Second Part of Henry IV, for its 
humour, through and through, and has not read Love's Labour 's Lost, 
for its wit, more than perhaps once. We all know Shakespeare as it 
were privately, and thus a demand for words about him touches our 
autobiography. What we think about Shakespeare is part of the public's 
privacy as well as of our own. For we are all more than content to be 
like Poins, to whom Prince Henry says, * Thou art a blessed fellow to 
think as every man thinks ; never a man's thought keeps in the roadway 
better than thine.' We are safe in the middle of the roadway in our 
thoughts of Shakespeare. Very few men have tried to be original in 
regard to Shakespeare, and their dreary experiment had best be for 
gotten. It will probably not be imitated. Shakespeare's greater 
readers have done no more than multiply one affection, one praise. 
Ruskin and Emerson are only more articulate than the rest of their 
respective nations. It is true that Ruskin seemed to make a kind of 
discovery when he showed this fact in the dramas that Shakespeare has 
no heroes, but only heroines. The * discovery ' only seems ; Ruskin 
states the matter, but every simple reader knows that Juliet was steadfast 
and wise in stratagem and Romeo rash, Juliet single-hearted and Romeo 
changeable ; that Imogen was true and that Posthumus Leonatus was 
by her magnanimity awarded a kind of triumph when all he should have 
hoped from her mercy was pardon ; that Hermione forgives her lord 
his suspicion, and the theft of her child, and sixteen years of innocent 
exile, without a word of forgiveness. Every reader knows the indomit 
able will of Helena, who condescends to pursue and win a paltry boy, 
and sweetly thinks herself rewarded by the possession of that poor 

D 2 


quarry ; the lovely simplicity of Desdemona, which lies as that of 
a frightened child lies, to save herself from the violence of the noble 
savage whom she loves ; the inarticulate and modest devotion of Virgilia 
to a great man not too great for insane self-love ; Cordelia 's integrity 
and self-possession among raving men ; Isabella's courage in face of 
a coward brother ; Viola's valour and her single love in search of the 
contre-coup of her Duke's affections ; Julia, true to a juggling lover ; 
Queen Katharine betrayed by a hypocrite ; nay, the maid called Barbara 
who was forsaken. Barbara, Desdemona, Juliet, Imogen, Virgilia, 
Miranda, Viola, Hermione, Perdita, Julia, Helena, the other Helena, 
Mariana, Rosalind, were all enamoured, all impassioned, and all 

Why did Shakespeare make heroines and not heroes ? It was 
assuredly because Shakespeare had a master passion for chastity, and 
because this quality was most credible, in a world not governed by 
theology, there where he attributed it, lodged it, and adored it in this 
candidatus exercitus of women. 

There is one thing that additionally and adventitiously proves this 
passion of Shakespeare's spirit, and that is his abstention from the 
brilliancy and beauty wherewith he knows how to invest the wanton : 
his vitality in Cressida, his incomparable splendour in Cleopatra. Yet 
stay is not Cressida alone in inconstancy ? and is it not a senseless 
action to name Cressida in Cleopatra's glorious company ? Shakespeare, 
able to make unparalleled Cressidas, made only one. Cleopatra is 
clean, not by water but by her * integrity of fire '. She too is constant, 
she too is * for the dark ', for eternity. She entrusts her passion to 
another world. Let her stand close to the majestic side of Hermione, 
even though Hermione might not permit Perdita to kiss her. 

Does this recognition of Shakespeare's master passion look like 
the claim to a discovery ? Heaven forbid, for it should not. 




WHEN the human spirit, joyful or disconsolate, seeks perch for its 
happy feet, or stay for flagging wings, it comes back again and again to 
the great tree of Shakespeare's genius, whose evergreen no heat withers, 
no cold blights, whose security no wind can loosen. 

Rooted in the good brown soil, sunlight or the starshine on its 
leaves, this great tree stands, a refuge and home for the spirits of men. 

Why are the writings of Shakespeare such an everlasting solace and 
inspiration ? 

Because, in an incomprehensible world, full of the savage and the 
stupid and the suffering, stocked with monstrous contrasts and the most 
queer happenings, they do not fly to another world for compensation. 
They are of Earth and not of Heaven. They blink nothing, dare every 
thing, but even in tragedy never lose their sane unconscious rapture, 
their prepossession with that entrancing occupation which we call ' life '. 
Firm in reality, they embody the faith that sufficient unto this Earth 
is the beauty and the meaning thereof. Theirs is, as it were, the proud 
exuberance of Nature, and no eye turned on the hereafter ; and so they 
fill us with gladness to be alive though * the rain it raineth every day '. 

Truth condescended for a moment when Shakespeare lived, with 
drew her bandage and looked out ; and good and evil, beauty and 
distortion, laughter and gloom for once were mirrored as they are, 
under this sun and moon. 

What a wide, free, careless spirit was this man Shakespeare's 
incarnate lesson to all narrow-headed mortals, with strait moralities, and 
pedantic hearts ! And what a Song he sang ; clothing Beauty for all 
time in actuality, in strangeness, and variety ! 

* He wanted arte,' Ben Jonson said ; * I would he had blotted a 
thousand lines ! ' No doubt ! And yet, Ben Jonson : What is art ? 

In every tree, even the greatest, dead wood and leaves shrivelled 
from birth, abound ; but never was a tree where the rich sap ran 
up more freely, never a tree whose height and circumference were 


greater, whose leaves so glistened ; where astonished Spring fluttered 
such green buds ; breezes made happier sound in Summer, whispering ; 
the Autumn gales a deeper roaring ; nor, in Winter, reigned so rare 
a silent beauty of snow. 

In this Great Tree, I think there shall never be, in the time of man, 

' Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.' 


March, 1916. 

F. R. BENSON 39 


1 OH, I see,' said a friend one day, at the end of a performance of 
Hamlet, ' you Stratfordians are trying to Shakespearize England.' 
* The world, too, if we can/ I replied. 

But primarily we are only wandering actors, not philanthropists, 
and as artists it is not ours to say this is right or this is wrong, only this 
is life as it has been, as it is, and as it may be if you will have it thus ; 
and as artists our desire is to take part in some of the most perfect dramas 
that the world has ever seen or will see. 

The size and shape of the theatres alter, the patterns of scenery and 
conventions of art- expression change, but the eternal truths of existence 
remain the same for all ages. 

It is such truths that the poet embodies in his work ; truths that 
deal with the strong things of life ; the sigh of the sea, the trumpet-note 
of the thunder, the song of the bird, the sunlight and the dark, the fall 
of a leaf from the tree, of a star from Heaven, the nightingale's lament, 
the buzzing of a gnat all blend in the magician's melody. Love pleads, 
Life struggles, Death flings wide the gates of understanding, all created 
things are busy the song of Drama, doing and being. 

If we can interpret the poet's meaning, we shall have told our audi 
ence something of the touch of Nature that makes the whole world kin, 
something of the realization of brotherhood through patriotism and the 
intensification of national life. We shall have shown them something 
of the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war ; something of the 
great peace enthroned in the human heart. We shall have given them 
glimpses of the pendulum of human progress, swinging between free 
development for the individual and the preservation of the racial type 
liberty under the law. 

Hither come pilgrims from the ends of the earth to enrich them 
selves and their fellows with those ideas for which Shakespeare stands 
as the representative genius of our race, as the master-poet of the world. 

' I have found the heart of England ', preached the sage from 


Bengal, * in Stratford-on-Avon, and it was as the heart of Shakespeare ; 
faithful, yet tolerant, and gentle as it was strong/ 

With the rhythmic balance of Hellenic movement, and with all the 
fervour of Hebraism, Shakespeare touches the secret springs of character, 
reveals the wisdom and tenderness of Mother Earth, interprets the 
language of bird and beast and flower, and manifests a Catholic Chris 
tianity that acknowledges, in all charity, its debt to and dependence 
upon a noble paganism. 

* And I will lead you forth to play in the sunshine, close to the 
waterfall, in a land of vines and sunshine, yea, and of men that sing far, 
far away for ever.' 


H. B. IRVING 41 


To Shakespeare the man of the theatre, the actor, the manager 
we of the theatre pay peculiar homage. To the men of letters, the 
critics and commentators, we leave Shakespeare the poet, but with this 
reservation, that to understand truly Shakespeare and his work it is 
necessary to understand something of, and to have some sympathy with, 
the theatre ; to recognize more fully than some writers are willing 
to allow, the considerable part which Shakespeare's sense of the theatre 
and experience of its art played in the development of his genius. The 
art of the theatre is as individual a thing as the art of painting or sculpture, 
and entirely separate and distinct from the art of the poet or novelist. 
Its conditions are circumscribed and peculiar, the talent or genius for 
it a thing apart. No play can live in the theatre by purely literary 
merit ; poetic genius alone cannot make an actable play. The theatre 
has, at times, incurred undeserved reprobation at the hands of those 
who have thought that success as poets or story-tellers must imply 
success in the theatre ; that, if they condescended to bring their work 
on to the stage, they would have no difficulty in achieving the same 
success which had attended them in their own particular art. They 
have forgotten that the favours of the Dramatic Muse are as difficult 
to secure, and must be as artfully won, as those of any other of the 
Muses. The poor lady has sometimes suffered rudely at their hands 
because she has preferred the persistent and laborious suitor to one 
too confident and condescending in his approach. We of the theatre 
know that Shakespeare as a playwright lives on the stage to-day apart 
from his contemporary dramatists because he, alone of them all, was 
not only the greatest poet but the one great dramatist among them. He 
knew from inside and respected the medium through which he worked, 
the temper of an audience, those secrets of dramatic effect which, to the 
playwright, represent the mechanism of the well-told story or the well- 
ordered poem. In short, Shakespeare knew his business as a man of 
the theatre ; he was a master-craftsman in his day, a journeyman at 


times, a genius not of the closet but of the stage ; and for that very 
reason, and that alone, his plays hold their own in the theatre to-day, in 
all languages and among all civilized peoples. 

As actors we owe our homage to Shakespeare. Never more than 
in this hour of our country's fate has he been an inspiration to the men 
of his calling to acquit themselves well, * to make mouths at the in 
visible event, exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, 
death and danger dare '. And when some would seek to strip from this 
actor's brows, because he was an actor, the laurels of his genius, we reply 
that those who know something of the world of the theatre, its rivalry, 
never more keen than in Shakespeare's day, who can picture the sur 
roundings in which he worked and strove for success, are convinced 
beyond any reasonable doubt that it would have been impossible, by 
all the laws of sense and probability, for a dramatist in Shakespeare's 
position to have foisted on to his colleagues and the public the work of 
another brain. So sensational and vital a secret of authorship could 
never have been kept in the small world of the theatre of that day, a 
world of active competition and, we know in Shakespeare's case, bitter 
jealousy. We of the theatre realize this, and to us such a consideration 
is answer enough to the utmost efforts of perverse ingenuity. Strong 
in our faith we pay our homage to this actor who has given to our 
English theatre an heritage of which we, by our own unaided efforts, 
have striven in the past and are striving to-day to be the worthy 
repositories. Our greatest desire must be ever to follow faithfully the 
example of those two loyal players who preserved for posterity the work 
* of so worthy a friend and fellow as was our Shakespeare '. 




IN time of war it is well to do homage to the first Englishman who 
has subjugated the enemy. The characteristic thoroughness of the 
Teutonic appreciation of Shakespeare is the best proof of the com 
pleteness of his triumph. 

But an infinitely harder task still awaits him : the subjugation of 
England is yet unachieved, and it is only when that age-long conflict 
is complete that we shall be able to celebrate any Shakespearian anni 
versary appropriately, and render him the only homage which would 
convince him, if he could return among us, that his countrymen believe 
in his glory and value his achievement at its surpassing worth. 

Not marble nor a gilded monument can accomplish what Shake 
speare asks from us ; a service in Stratford Church may commemorate 
the enclosing of his dust ; but only in that newer temple on the banks 
of Avon can the fitting rite be held, and while it stands solitary in 
the English shires it would be impossible to persuade his spirit, if we 
knew how to invoke it, that the tribute of our commemoration is sincere 
or anything more than a detachable ornament perfunctorily pinned 
on to the fabric of our modern life for occasions of display. 

Shakespeare's infinite variety would turn that of Cleopatra into 
a monotony if they could be set in comparison ; yet age would appear 
to have withered it, custom to have staled it, if his position in his own 
country were the only standard of judgement. For several generations 
it has seemed a noble thought, a piece of profound wisdom, to say that 
he is too great for the theatre and that he can only yield his innermost 
riches to the student in his closet. This may well be true when the 
student in his closet is the actor busied in identifying himself with his 
part ; but in its larger application this doctrine that Shakespeare can 
best be worshipped in a temple built without hands has been held long 
enough for us to ask what its results are, and to note that during 
its currency the English theatre has descended from level to level of 
debasement and cheapness. 


It is certainly not too soon to urge that it might be well to try 
worshipping him in temples built with hands again. Most of the great 
poetry in the world was written for the sake of its sound in men's mouths ; 
it should be apparent that this was especially so in the case of dramatic 
poetry, yet a mischievous by-product of the invention of printing has 
been the gradual production of the idea, now almost become an instinct, 
that poetry is half a visual art, a pleasure of the eye to be gained by the 
look of words on printed pages. Yet Milton, sounding his lines in dark 
ness, thought as little of testing poetry by such a standard as Shakespeare 
did when he supplied his theatre with manuscripts and left them there. 
Messieurs Mouth and Company are as truly the real publishers for poetry 
as they were in the days of Aeschylus, and England will never know 
the wonder and delight and awe-stirring powers of Shakespeare until 
his words are heard ten thousand times oftener than they are printed, 
until his plays become again part of the daily routine of English theatres 
rather than the hors-d'oeuvre of festivals, and the total seating accommo 
dation of English theatres has become at least as great and as well 
distributed as the total seating accommodation of English churches 
and chapels. 

If he had been born before the Reformation this first essential 
would have been his from the beginning, for he would have worked for 
the universal employer that gave complete and endless opportunities 
to those great Italian dramatists Giotto and Giovanni Bellini and 
Tintoretto. The church was then the theatre ; and sometimes it seems 
as if the theatre will never be universal again, or realize its opportunities 
adequately, until it returns to the church or, indeed, until the church 
realizes the dramaturgic nature of its ceremonies and teaching, and 
becomes a theatre. 

In the Middle Ages Shakespeare thus would have been sure of an 
auditorium and an instructed audience in every parish, and he would 
have been a national possession to Englishmen in a way that he never 
has been yet. In the beginning of the nineteenth century such an oppor 
tunity, though in a lesser degree, began to seem possible ; modest 
theatres with stock companies sprang up in most of the comfortable 
country towns in every shire, and energy and resource showed itself 
everywhere in the number of great plays taken in hand, the sustained 
interest of provincial audiences in serious drama, and the number of 
competent actors which the system produced. But the commercial 
development of England came and altered the balance of importance 
of the provincial towns, and was followed by the railways, which 


centralized the satisfaction of the community's needs at a few nodal 
points ; and the whole organization disappeared. 

The loss was very real. I have in mind the district with which I am 
most familiar, a rocky, thinly populated stretch of country on the north 
west coast of England. A hundred years ago its life and activities 
centred about two market-towns at its borders : to-day those towns 
persist little changed, perhaps rather larger and more prosperous under 
modern conditions. Their amusements are administered in a couple 
of picture-palaces and a modest concert-hall at which a musical comedy 
touring company occasionally pauses for three nights : no one would 
think it worth his while to build a theatre in either of them, no one in 
his senses would think it possible to maintain a stock company in such a 
theatre even if it were built ; yet in each of them there exists intact the 
physical structure of what was a well-appointed theatre in the days of 
Mrs. Siddons and Kean, and in one of those theatres now a cheap 
dancing academy Kean once acted, the townsfolk still proudly record. 
Kean once acted, and perhaps Wordsworth and De Quincey applauded ; 
for there De Quincey edited the local paper, and thither Wordsworth 
must come when he would take coach for the outer world. But neither 
Irving nor Forbes- Robertson ever acted there, and it is safe to assume 
that the bicentenary of Shakespeare's death had interest and reality 
in many mountain villages and fell-side farms where its tercentenary 
will pass unrevered or unknown. 

In devising a National Memorial to keep Shakespeare's achieve 
ment more vividly and constantly in the minds of his countrymen, it 
is inevitable that a metropolitan theatre, where all great plays may find 
performance regardless of dividends, and where the passage of time may 
create a school of great acting and severe technique, should seem most 
worth working for. The need for such a theatre is paramount and even 
peremptory, if only to provide a standard and an authority from which 
young poets may revolt, and upon which youth in general may spend 
its passion for contradiction, in the profitable and well-trained fashion 
which the Royal Academy of Arts has taught to six generations of 
brilliant painters. In passing it may be urged that, when such a theatre 
is consummated, it might well profit by the modern discoveries in 
theatre construction and scenic management which have not yet reached 
London, and indeed make every experiment which has no attraction 
for syndicates or shareholders. 

But when such a theatre is finished, the task of building Shake 
speare's memorial in a nation's mind will only be begun. Perhaps it 


will not be thought irrelevant that a rustic and provincial writer should 
insist, even tediously, that decentralization and universal penetration 
alone can complete the work. Such touring companies as those of 
Mr. F. R. Benson do something, and something considerable : the 
isolated enterprise of Mr. Barry Jackson and Mr. John Drinkwater has 
raised in Birmingham the most modern theatre in England, and practises 
in it, with a stock company, the performance of Shakespeare's plays 
and those of his great companions, not on red-letter days alone, but as 
part of a daily duty. If such a theatre as the Birmingham Repertory 
Theatre were to be built in every prosperous town in England, Shake 
speare would have come into his own before the arrival of his quater- 
centenary ; but the inertia and indifference and dislike of innovation, 
the demand for the minor gaieties and the baser sentimentalities now 
prevalent, can only be overcome by a public effort. If the Memorial 
Committee could enlarge its scheme to include provincial memorial 
theatres, and companies to carry the seldom-seen plays to every part 
of England, Shakespeare might soon be the popular dramatist in his 
own country that he is in the rest of Europe. 

I yield my homage earnestly and eagerly to the creative force that 
worked instinctively and easily in Nature's way, and with results that 
were Nature's own ; to the mastery of the deep springs of mirth, of 
a superb sense of design working with human bodies as its integers, 
and of life's supreme illumination by tragic splendour, which can still 
make the world seem for a little while as vivid and august to lesser men 
as it was continually to the miracle-worker himself ; but I cannot help 
regretting that the corporate homage of Shakespeare's countrymen 
should still be so imperfectly at Shakespeare's service. 




EACH bough hung quiet in its place 

O'er Stratford's starry lea, 
Yet round and round with giddy race 
I saw the dead leaves flee, 
In and out 
In eerie rout 
A sight most strange to see. 
And then I heard with quick heart-beat 
Multitudinous fairy feet 
Marching come 
With elfin hum 
And music faint and sweet. 

Within a beech's hollow trunk, 

Whose bursting buds had strowed 
Those red, dead eddying leaves, I shrunk 
And breathless there abode, 
While those fine 
Fays in line 

Past me flowed and flowed. 
'Twas Shakespeare's Fairy Host indeed. 
Oberon and Titania lead ; 
Then, good Troth ! 
Puck, Cobweb, Moth, 
Pease-blossom, Mustard Seed. 


Thereat, the climate, changing quite, 

Yields Athens to the view, 
Beneath whose bright Midsummer Night 
Puck plays his pranks anew 
Works Bottom 's strange 
And monstrous change ; 
Befools four lovers true : 
And in requital for her harms 
To Oberon, Titania charms 
From sleep to wake 
Bewitched and take 
An Ass-head to her arms ! 

That marvellous Dream on English Air 

Dissolves, the Host moves on, 
I follow them from out my lair 
O'er moonlit meadows wan; 
Till round the porch 
Of Stratford Church 
Like bees they swarm anon ; 
While * Hail, all Hail ! ' their homage-cry 
Swells sweetly up into the sky, 
* For, Master Will, 
Thy magic skill 
Has made us live for aye.' 


W. P. KER 49 


ENGLAND and Spain in the great age seem to have had a common 
understanding of many things ; they agreed in many points of art 
without debate or discussion, or any overt communication, as far as one 
can make out. No form of verse in French or Italian resembles English 
verse in its rules and licences as does the Spanish measure called arte 
mayor. Even the trick of the heroic couplet used as a tag at the end of 
a blank- verse tirade is common to Lope de Vega and Shakespeare. 

In several passages Cervantes might almost be translating Sir Philip 
Sidney. The great dialogue on romance and the drama at the end of 
the first part of Don Quixote (1605) is more like the Apologie for Poetrie 
than many things that have been quoted by * parallelists ' as evidence of 
plagiarism : 

What greater absurdity can there be in drama (says the Curate) than to bring in 
a child in swaddling clothes at the beginning of the first act and to find him in the second 
a grown man and bearded ? ... As for the observance of place what can I say except that 
I have seen a play where the first act began in Europe, the second in Asia, the third ended 
in Africa, and if there had been a fourth it would have passed in America, and so the play 
would have comprehended the four quarters of the world. 

In the previous chapter the Canon of Toledo, speaking undoubtedly 
the opinions of Cervantes, had described an ideal of romance with all 
that devotion to classical ideals which is so strong in Sidney. The 
author of Don Quixote, writing the first great modern novel and talking 
about the art of romance, gives as his ideal of prose fiction a work in 
which all the characters are noble classical types * the wit of Ulysses, 
the piety of Aeneas, the valour of Achilles, the sorrows of Hector ; 
treating of which the author with the freedom of the prose form may 
vary his style, and be epic, lyric, tragical, comical, or what you will ' 
ending with the weighty sentence : * For Epic can be written not only 
in verse but in prose.' 

It might be a description of Sidney's Arcadia ; it is a prophecy of 
the last work of Cervantes, Persilesy Sigismunda, the serious and classical 


romance in which he imitated Heliodorus. Heliodorus, thirty years 
before, had been saluted by Sidney as an author of prose epic (which is 
the same thing as heroical romance) : 

For Xenophon who did imitate so excellently as to give us effigiein jiisti imperii, the 
portraiture of a just empire, under the name of Cyrus (as Cicero saith of him) made therein 
an absolute heroical poem. So did Heliodorus in his sugred invention of that picture of 
love in Theagenes and Chariclea. And yet both these write in prose, &c. 

Cervantes is somewhere between Sidney and Shakespeare in his 
respect for the classical idols. Sidney and Cervantes are subdued, as 
Shakespeare is not, in presence of the great authorities. The imposture 
of the Renaissance, the superstitious worship of literary ideas, is shown 
most clearly in reference to Heliodorus. There must be something in 
prose corresponding to epic poetry. So Heliodorus is made into the 
pattern of heroic romance, almost equal to Homer. He satisfies the 
conditions of an abstract critical theory. Sidney and Cervantes 
occasionally revel in terms of literary species. So does Shakespeare, 
as we know ; this is the sort of intellect that Shakespeare names 

Cervantes spent a great deal of time in the service of conventional 
literary ideals ; but if he wrote the Galatea, he also wrote Don Quixote^ 
and he belonged to a country that was fond of fresh life in its stories. 
Shakespeare kept out of the danger of Arcadia, and paid respect to no 
literary ideas (such as heroic poem or heroic romance), however much 
they might be preached about by the critics. But Shakespeare had few 
prejudices ; that * great but irregular genius ' did not scruple to use the 
tricks of classical tragedy (e.g. stichomythia), if it suited his purpose to 
do so, and he was not going to renounce Arcadia because Polonius and 
his friends were eloquent about the pastoral idea. Shakespeare and 
Cervantes agree in certain places with regard to pastoral. They agree 
in playing a double game about it. Pastoral is ridiculed in the penance 
of Don Quixote ; yet the story of Don Quixote is full of the most 
beautiful pastoral episodes Marcela the best of them, it may be. 
As You Like It is of course the play where Shakespeare criticises pastoral, 
and shows the vanity of it, and how different from the golden world 
are the briers of the forest of Arden and the biting of the northern wind. 
We are not seriously taken in by this hypocrisy ; we know that in spite 
of Touchstone we too are in Arcadia, in the rich landscape along with 
youth and fair speech. Touchstone leaves Arcadia much as it was, and 
the appeal to the dead shepherd proves how harmless is his negative 

W. P. KER 51 

In the story of Preciosa, the Spanish gipsy, the first of the Novelas 
exemplar es, Cervantes plays for an effect like that of Shakespeare's green 
wood in As You Like It. The scene is not Arcadia, but Madrid and the 
country about Toledo, Estremadura and Murcia. The gipsies of the 
story are rogues and vagabonds. But the story is a pastoral romance 
none the less ; the free life of the gipsies is praised in such terms as 
turn the hardships into pleasant fancies. Preciosa has just enough of the 
gipsy character to save the author from instant detection ; she is good 
at begging, and she has the professional lisp. 1 But her world is Arcadia, 
the pure pastoral beauty where Florizel and Perdita also have their home. 
And here, to end, it may be observed that Cervantes and Shakespeare 
with Preciosa and Perdita have been glad to repeat the old device of the 
classical comedy. They might perhaps have done without it, but for 
the sake of Preciosa and the other long-lost child we spectators will 
always applaud loudly when the box of baby-things irrjplSiov yj/&>/>to>tarcj/ 
is produced in the last scene, to bring back the heroine to her own 

W. P. KER. 

1 ' i Quierenme dar barato ? cenores, dijo Preciosa, que como gitana hablaba ceceoso, 
y esto es artificio en ellos, que no naturaleza.' CERVANTES, La Gitanilla de Madrid. 

E 2 



AMONG the * co-supremes and stars of love * which form the con 
stellated glory of our greatest poet there is one small splendour which we 
are apt to overlook in our general survey. But, if we isolate it from 
other considerations, it is surely no small thing that Shakespeare created 
and introduced into our literature the Dramatic Song. If with statistical 
finger we turn the pages of all his plays, we shall discover, not perhaps 
without surprise, that these contain not fewer than fifty strains of lyrical 
measure. Some of the fifty, to be sure, are mere star-dust, but others 
include some of the very jewels of our tongue. They range in form 
from the sophisticated quatorzains of The Two Gentlemen of Verona 
(where, however, comes * Who is Silvia ? ') to the reckless snatches of 
melody in Hamlet. But all have a character which is Shakespearean, 
and this regardless of the question so often raised, and so incapable of 
reply, as to whether some of the wilder ones are Shakespeare's com 
position or no. Whoever originally may have written such scraps as 

* They bore him bare-faced on the bier ' and * Come o'er the bourne, 
Bessy, to me ', the spirit of Shakespeare now pervades and possesses 

Our poet was a prodigious innovator in this as in so many other 
matters. Of course, the idea and practice of musical interludes in plays 
was not quite novel. In Shakespeare's early youth that remarkable artist 
in language, John Lyly, had presented songs in several of his plays, and 
these were notable for what his contemporary, Henry Upchear, called 

* their labouring beauty '. We may notice that Lyly's songs were not 
printed till long after Shakespeare's death, but doubtless he had listened 
to them. Peele and Greene had brilliant lyrical gifts, but they did not 
exercise them in their dramas, nor did Lodge, whose novel of Rosalynde 
(1590) contains the only two precedent songs which we could willingly 
add to Shakespeare's juvenile repertory. But while I think it would be 
rash to deny that the lyrics of Lodge and Lyly had their direct influence 
on the style of Shakespeare, neither of those admirable precursors 



conceived the possibility of making the Song an integral part of the 
development of the Drama. This was Shakespeare's invention, and 
he applied it with a technical adroitness which had never been dreamed 
of before and was never rivalled after. 

This was not apprehended by the early critics of our divine poet, and 
has never yet, perhaps, received all the attention it deserves. We may 
find ourselves bewildered if we glance at what the eighteenth-century 
commentators said, for instance, about the songs in Twelfth Night. They 
called the adorable rhapsodies of the Clown * absurd ' and * unintelli 
gible ' ; ' O Mistress mine ' was in their ears * meaningless ' ; * When 
that I was ' appeared to them * degraded buffoonery '. They did not 
perceive the close and indispensable connexion between the Clown's 
song and the action of the piece, although the poet had been careful to 
point out that it was a moral song ' dulcet in contagion ', and too good, 
except for sarcasm, to be wasted on Sir Andrew and Sir Toby. The 
critics neglected to note what the Duke says about ' Come away, come 
away, Death ', and they prattled in their blindness as to whether this 
must not really have been sung by Viola, all the while insensible to 
the poignant dramatic value of it as warbled by the ironic Clown in the 
presence of the blinded pair. But indeed the whole of Twelfth Night 
is burdened with melody ; behind every garden-door a lute is tinkling, 
and at each change of scene some unseen hand is overheard touching 
a harp-string. The lovely, infatuated lyrics arrive, dramatically, to 
relieve this musical tension at its height. 

Rather different, and perhaps still more subtle, is the case of 
A Winter's Tale, where the musical obsession is less prominent, and 
where the songs are all delivered from the fantastic lips of Autolycus. 
Here again the old critics were very wonderful. Dr. Burney puts 
1 When daffodils begin to peer ' and ' Lawn as white as driven snow ' 
into one bag, and flings it upon the dust-heap, as * two nonsensical songs ' 
sung by * a pickpocket '. Dr. Warburton blushed to think that such 
1 nonsense ' could be foisted on Shakespeare's text. Strange that those 
learned men were unable to see, not merely that the rogue-songs are 
intensely human and pointedly Shakespearean, but that they are an 
integral part of the drama. They complete the revelation of the com 
plex temperament of Autolycus, with his passion for flowers and 
millinery, his hysterical balancing between laughter and tears, his 
impish mendacity, his sudden sentimentality, like the Clown's 

Not a friend, not a friend greet 

My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown ! 


It is in these subtle lyrical amalgams of humour and tenderness that the 
firm hand of the creator of character reveals itself. 

But it is in The Tempest that Shakespeare 's supremacy as a writer 
of songs is most brilliantly developed. Here are seven or eight lyrics, 
and among them are some of the loveliest things that any man has 
written. What was ever composed more liquid, more elastic, more 
delicately fairy-like than Ariel's First Song ? 

Come unto these yellow sands, 

And then take hands: 
Curtsied when you have, and kiss'd, 

The wild waves whist. 

That is, not * kissed the wild waves ', as ingenious punctuators pretend, 
but, parenthetically, * kissed one another, the wild waves being silent 
the while.' Even fairies do not kiss waves, than which no embrace 
could be conceived less rewarding. Has any one remarked the echo of 
Marlowe here, from Hero and Leander, 

when all is whist and still, 
Save that the sea playing on yellow sand 
Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land? 

But Marlowe, with all his gifts, could never have written the lyrical parts 
of The Tempest. This song is in emotional sympathy with Ferdinand, 
and in the truest sense dramatic, not a piece of pretty verse foisted in to 
add to the entertainment. 

Ariel's Second Song has been compared with Webster's * Call for 
the robin redbreast ' in The White Devil, but, solemn as Webster's dirge 
is, it tolls, it does not sing to us. Shakespeare's * ditty,' as Ferdinand 
calls it, is like a breath of the west wind over an Aeolian harp. Where, 
in any language, has ease of metre triumphed more adorably than in 
Ariel's Fourth Song, * Where the bee sucks ' ? Dowden saw in Ariel 
the imaginative genius of English poetry, recently delivered from 
Sycorax. If we glance at Dryden's recension of The Tempest we may 
be inclined to think that the * wicked dam ' soon won back her mastery. 
With all respect to Dry den, what are we to think of his discretion in 
eking out Shakespeare's insufficiencies with such staves as this : 

Upon the floods will sing and play 
And celebrate a halcyon day ; 
Great Nephew Aeolus make no noise, 
Muzzle your roaring boys. 

and so forth ? What had happened to the ear of England in seventy years ? 



As a matter of fact the perfection of dramatic song scarcely sur 
vived Shakespeare himself. The early Jacobeans, Heywood, Ford, and 
Dekker in particular, broke out occasionally in delicate ditties. But 
most playwrights, like Massinger, were persistently pedestrian. The 
only man who came at all close to Shakespeare as a lyrist was John 
Fletcher, whose * Lay a garland on my hearse ' nobody could challenge 
if it were found printed first in a Shakespeare quarto. The three great 
songs in Vakntinian have almost more splendour than any of Shake 
speare's, though never quite the intimate beauty, the singing spon 
taneity of ' Under the greenwood tree ' or * Hark, hark, the lark '. It 
has grown to be the habit of anthologists to assert Shakespeare's right 
to ' Roses, their sharp spikes being gone '. The mere fact of its loveli 
ness and perfection gives them no authority to do so ; and to my ear 
the rather stately procession of syllables is reminiscent of Fletcher. We 
shall never be certain, and who would not swear that * Hear, ye ladies 
that are coy ' was by the same hand that wrote ' Sigh no more, ladies ', 
if we were not sure of the contrary ? But the most effective test, even 
in the case of Fletcher, is to see whether the trill of song is, or is not, 
an inherent portion of the dramatic structure of the play. This is the 
hall-mark of Shakespeare, and perhaps of him alone. 




DIED APRIL 23, 1616 

AND then the rest ? 
What did he find 
In the unfettered universe of mind, 

To whom one star revealed 

Complete and unconcealed 
The maze of various man, in coloured music wrought 

God's rich creative thought 
Of ardour, grief, and laughter all compact 
And more, beyond the patch of fenced fact, 
Where at the edge of dream the air 's alive with wings, 
Showed him the hidden world of delicate fair things ? 

With what new zest, 

His inward vision healed 
Of rheumy Time, and from the clipping zone 

Of Space set free, 

He roamed those meadows of Eternity 
Where the storm blows that comes from the unknown 
To shake the crazy windows of the soul 

With gusts of strange desire ! 

Thrust by that favouring gale 
Did he set out, as Prospero, to sail 
The lonely splendours of the Nameless Sea ? 

Where did he make the land ? 
Upon what coasts, what sudden magic isles ? 


And what quick spirits met he on the strand ? 

What new mysterious loves swifter than fire 

Streaming from out the love that ever smiles, 

What musical sweet shapes, what things grotesque and dear 

We know not here, 
What starry songs of what exultant quire 

Now fill the span 
Of his wide-open thought, who grasped the heart of man ? 

Saints have confest 

That by deep gazing they achieve to know 
The hiddenness of God, His rich delight ; 

And so 
There 's a keen love some poets have possest, 

Sharper than sight 

To prick the dark that wraps our spirits round 
And, beyond Time, see men in its own light. 

Those look upon His face, 

These in a glass have found 
The moving pageant of His eager will : 
All the nobility and naughtiness, 

Simplicity and skill 

Of living souls, that do our dusk redeem 
With flaming deed and strangely-smouldering dream. 
Great contemplator of humanity ! 
'Twas thus you saw, and showed to us again 
The one divine immortal comedy : 
Horror and tears, laughter and loveliness, 

All rapture and all pain 
Held in one unity's immense embrace, 

Set in one narrow place. 
Now, in the unwalled playhouse of the True, 
You know the life from which that drama drew. 




SHAKESPEARE has given us the finest interpretation in any language 
of one of the central doctrines of Greek philosophy. That does not 
mean, of course, that he was a student of the subject in the ordinary 
sense. Though I am convinced that his classical attainments were far 
more considerable than is sometimes supposed, I do not suggest that 
he had read Plato's Timaeus. What I claim for him is something more 
than that, namely, that he was able to disentangle the essential meaning 
of the Pythagorean doctrines preserved in that dialogue, though these 
were only known to him through a very distorted tradition. Milton 
knew them well in their original form ; but his Platonism, nobly as it 
is expressed, yet lacks a touch which is present in Lorenzo's brief dis 
course on Music in Act V of the Merchant of Venice. It may be worth 
while to add that such sympathetic interpretation of Greek thought 
was quite * out of the welkin ' of Francis Bacon. 

The commentators fail to throw much light on Lorenzo's theory. 
They do not appear to have heard of Plato's Timaeus, though that 
dialogue has had more influence on European literature than almost 
any work that could be named, and though it is the ultimate source of 
so much that is best in English literature in particular. Above all, they 
do not possess the clue to the whole discourse, namely, the Pythagorean 
doctrine of Music as the * purgation ' (K.a.6apais) of the soul. Let us 
see whether, with that clue in our hands, we can follow Lorenzo's 
argument more closely, and state his theory rather more fully than the 
exigencies of dramatic art have allowed him to state it himself. 

Let us start from the words * Such harmony is in immortal souls ', 
and note at once that the term * harmony ' in this connexion does not 
bear its modern meaning. Greek music had no harmony in our sense, 
and apuovia meant * scale ' or * octave '. Now the sun, the moon, and 
the five planets, along with the heaven of the fixed stars, were believed 
to form a harmony in this sense, an octave scale, the intervals of which 
were determined by the distances between the planetary orbits. That 


octave has its counterpart in the immortal soul of each one of us ; for 
the circular motions of the soul of man only reproduce on a smaller 
scale the mightier revolutions in the soul of the world, which are just 
the paths of the heavenly orbs. Were it not for the earthly and perish 
able nature of the body, our souls would therefore sound in perfect 
unison with the grander music of the Cosmos. As it is, there is a cor 
poreal barrier between the Soul of Man and the Soul of the World. 
The function of Music is to overcome this barrier, and it can do so 
because it is able to reach the soul, while its scales reproduce the intervals 
of the celestial diapason. It is thus an intermediary between the uni 
verse and ourselves. So, when we hear music, our nature is changed 
for the time, the motions of our * spirits ' are brought into accord .with 
those of the heavenly bodies, and we are at one with what is highest. 
We see rudimentary traces of this even in some of the animals. On the 
other hand, a human soul from which music can elicit no response is 
altogether out of tune with the Soul of the World. It is not only the 
body in this case that bars the way ; the soul itself rings untrue. All 
that is Pythagorean doctrine, and in the light of it Lorenzo's speech 
becomes quite clear. 

It is curious that Lorenzo says nothing about the * crystal spheres '. 
As a matter of fact, these are a later addition to the doctrine, and are 
not to be found in the Timaeus. It almost looks as if Shakespeare saw 
them to be irrelevant, as in fact they are. He does, however, introduce 
one modification of the imagery, which gives us a valuable hint as to 
the channels through which it reached him. In the Myth of Er in 
Plato's Republic we read that there is a Siren on each of the planetary 
rings who sings in monotone her proper note in the octave. Lorenzo 
substitutes angels and cherubim, and that goes back in the long run to 
* Dionysius the Areopagite '. We may fairly infer that the theory of 
the celestial * harmony ' reached Shakespeare, as it reached Dante, in 
a mediaeval dress, and it is not hard to see how that may have come about. 

Plato's Timaeus was never wholly lost to western Europe, as his 
other dialogues were ; for the greater part of it was accessible in the 
Latin version of Chalcidius (fourth century A. D.), with an elaborate 
commentary based mainly on Posidonius. In that commentary the 
doctrine is to be found, Sirens and all. It is, says Chalcidius, the con 
sortium corporis which causes the ratio harmonica in the human soul to 
fade away into oblivion, so that the souls of the many are * unmodu 
lated '. Music is the cure (medeld) for this ; for it alone can recall the 
motions of our soul when they deviate from their orbits (exorbitantes) 


to the original concord (ad veterem symphoniam). In general, we may 
say that Posidonius, who was specially interested in early Pythagorean- 
ism, made use of his knowledge to illuminate the obscurities of the 
Timaeus y and that Chalcidius handed on the torch to the Middle Ages. 

The School of Chartres was the legitimate successor of Plato's 
Academy, and its teaching was based on the work of Chalcidius. In 
the twelfth century Bernard Silvester of Tours sought to rival the 
Timaeus itself in his De mundi universitate, and it was he that made the 
terms Macrocosm and Microcosm familiar. They are not to be found 
in Greek, though Philo and others speak of man as a tuKpo? or Ppaxv? 
/coV/ioy, the brevis mundus of Chalcidius. It is here too that personified 
Nature makes her appearance, practically for the first time. Then comes 
the De planctu naturae of Alan of Lille, to whom Chaucer refers his 
readers for a description of the goddess Nature, and from whom he 
borrows her designation as ' God's vicar general '. The Platonism of 
Chartres was popularized by Jean de Meung's continuation of the 
Roman de la Rose, and by the fifteenth century the leading doctrines 
of the Timaeus were common property, especially in England. There 
was an eager desire to know more of Plato, and Humphrey, Duke of 
Gloucester, procured a translation of the Phaedo and the Meno from 
Sicily. Inevitably this interest in Platonism was reflected in the Morali 
ties of the next age, which betray their affiliation to the school of Chartres 
by the leading part they often assign to Nature, a personification practi 
cally unknown in continental literature till a later date, but of the highest 
importance for English poetry and English science. Obvious examples 
are the Interlude oj the Four Elements (though that is Aristotelian, not 
Platonic), and The Marriage of Wit and Science, the very title of which 
is pure Plato. It is a probable conjecture that Shakespeare's Platonism 
first came to him from sources of this kind, which would account for 
the angels and the cherubim, though we must not exclude other possi 
bilities. It is certain, at any rate, that there was a vast mass of floating 
traditional lore, of Pythagorean and Platonic origin, in the England of 
Shakespeare's youth, and that he was just the man to be influenced 
by it. 

The ' muddy vesture of decay ' deserves a few words to itself. 
The Pythagoreans generally spoke of the body as the tomb or prison 
of the soul, but there was also an old Orphic doctrine that the body 
was the soul's garment (\LTWV). At a later date this was revived in 
Gnostic circles and the ' vesture ' was identified with the coats of skins 


t) made by God for Adam and Eve. The image 
was adopted by Porphyry and his successors, and so passed into 
mediaeval Platonism. The epithets * muddy ' (xoMs) and * of decay ' 
(<j)0apTo?) reveal the origin of the phrase, however it may have reached 
Shakespeare. He can hardly have got it from St. Paul ; for * muddy ' 
is a more accurate rendering of xi K s than the terrenus of the Vulgate 
or the * earthy ' of the English version. 

The result of all this is that Shakespeare has picked out the pure 
gold from the dross with an unerring instinct. The Aristotelian and 
Scholastic accretions which disfigured the doctrine have all dropped 
away, and the thought of Pythagoras stands revealed in its original 
simplicity. We need not wonder at that. The sympathetic insight 
into another soul, which is the gift of the interpreter, is at bottom 
the same thing as dramatic genius. It is, after all, no great marvel 
that the creator of Hamlet and Falstaff could also recreate Pythagoras 
from the stray hints tradition had preserved. 





A Quatorzain in the commendation oj Master William Shakespeare and 

his Country y wherein the Author hath imitated, albeit imperfectly, 

the manner of our Elizabethan poets. 

OUR own Thou art, and England's self in Thee, 

Drest in the rare perfections of thy book, 

As some fair queen may in her mirror look 

To learn where lies her beauty's mystery. 

Thyself art England, all the world may see, 

Her tongue, her pen ; so has thy Muse outgone 

The quire of Castaly and Helicon 

And quite o'erpassed their starry Italy. 

Thus hast thou conquered Time who conquers men, 

And writ alone her virtue's argument ; 

Here is our England's wealth : what wonder then 

That this thy page breeds more astonishment 

Than that famed garden set i' the ocean seas 

Or fabled fruit of the Hesperides. 


The chief ground and matter of this sonnet resteth upon a tale set forth 
by the philosopher and mythologian Plato, in the tenth book 

of his nOAITEIA. 

As on the spindle of Necessity 

Roll the bright orbs of being, ring on ring, 

To the unwearied song the Sirens sing, 

Nor age nor falter on the eternal way ; 

So in thy Heavens, child of destiny, 

On music's wide imperishable wing, 

All years above or season's reckoning, 

Star follows star in crystalline array. 

There too the Fates enthron'd may each one see, 

Calm memorable goddesses, and mark 

How the lot falls to that man or to this, 

And ponder in his heart each firm decree, 

Ere on the ultimate ocean he embark 

Himself to hear the doom of Lachesis. 






THERE is no English poet to whom music has been a more intimate 
and vital source of inspiration than it was to Shakespeare. His lyrics 
are the purest melodies in our language : his plays are instinct with the 
impulse and delight of song : it is music that soothes the love sickness 
of Orsino, that fills the starry night when Lorenzo and Jessica exchange 
their vows, that sets the fairies circling round the couch of Titania, that 
pours new enchantment over the magic of Prospero's isle. The whole 
air is filled with the concourse of sweet sounds : under Sylvia 's window, 
in Katherine's chamber, before the porch of Mariana's moated grange : 
Cleopatra cannot go a-fishing without her minstrels, the jolly hunters 
in Arden Forest celebrate their quarry with a rousing chorus. Even in 
the darkest hours of tragedy music comes as a relief and a consolation : 
Desdemona sings of her forebodings ; Ophelia of her broken heart ; 
Edgar, on the storm-swept heath, breaks into half-forgotten fragments 
of wild melody. And behind all these grave matters of character and 
incident, of suspended fortunes and final issue, stretches the broad 
country-side which Shakespeare loved ; the dancers on the village- 
green keeping time to the pipe and tabor ; the reapers * three-man 
song-men all and very good ones, but they are most of them means and 
basses ' ; Autolycus with his pack of ballads singing along the footpath 
way ; roisterers joining in a catch at the ale-house door : a coppice of 
wood-notes, artless and untaught, carolling for very joy and fullness 
of life. 

It is therefore notable that the age of Shakespeare was also the 
greatest and most fertile in the history of our national music. The 
first English madrigal was printed in 1588 : for a generation before 
that we had held honourable rivalry with the Flemish and Italian 
church composers ; during the generation which followed we may 
claim to have won our way to pre-eminence. Tallis, who died in 1585, 
summed up in his own work all the strength and skill, all the vigour and 
learning which the music of his time could attain : William Byrd, his 

W. H. HADOW 65 

younger colleague perhaps his pupil added a new sweetness of 
melody, a new grace of style, and, what is of far greater moment, a sense 
of the depth and mystery of music which is comparable to that of 
Shakespeare himself. And close upon Byrd follows a noble procession 
of madrigal composers : Weelkes and Wilbye, Bennet and Bateson, 
Morley who calls Byrd * my loving master ', and Gibbons who was 
honoured by his collaboration : to the Triumphs of Oriana twenty-five 
Englishmen contributed, and every work is a masterpiece. Nor were 
the performers less conspicuous. Dowland was the most famous 
lutenist in Europe : Bull and Philips were among the most famous 
organ-players : the pieces in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book testify to 
an astonishing degree of skill and proficiency. And all this garden of 
delights grew from a soil ready prepared for it. Music, in Elizabeth's 
reign, was taken for granted as a part of every one's education. ' Supper 
being ended/ says Philomathes, 1 * and Musicke bookes (according to 
the custome) being brought to the table : the mistresse of the house 
presented me with a part earnestly requesting me to sing. But when 
after many excuses, I protested unfainedly that I could not, every one 
began to wonder. Yea, some whispered to others demanding how I was 
brought up.' Queen Elizabeth was a skilful performer on the virginals, 
and readily forgave the indiscreet ambassador who had overheard her, 
on his assurance that she played better than Mary Queen of Scots. 
Many of the instrumental pieces which still survive are severally dedi 
cated to lords and ladies of the court : some are marked with special 
instructions for the patrons who were to play them : some are by 
amateur composers, Robert Hales, for instance, and * Mr. Daniells ', 
and Captain Tobias Hume whose ' profession hath been that of arms * 
and whose music * hath been always generous because never merce- 
narie '. It is true that the society of Shakespeare's time anticipated 
our own in the hospitable welcome which it offered to the artists of 
foreign countries. * Some there be', says Campion in 1613, 'who 
admit only French and Italian aires, as if every country had not its 
proper aire which the people thereof naturally usurp in their music.' 
But, apart from passing fashion, such generosity was the intercourse 
of nations which could meet on terms of comradeship, and was repaid, 
at least in part, by the respect that was shown to our musicians abroad. 
The wealthier houses in Shakespeare's time had at disposal a large 
variety of musical instruments. The organ was rarely to be found 
among them, though Chappington and Dalham were famous organ- 

1 Morley, A plaine and easie introduction to Practical! Mnsicke, p. i. 



builders, but the regal, a small portative organ, was not uncommon, 
and the virginal * stood in high favour among the ladies of the household. 
It is the more noteworthy that Shakespeare never mentions either of 
these by name (he uses ' virginalling ' as a metaphor in The Winter's 
Tale), and that his only description of a virginal player has been censured 
by careful critics for a technical mistake. The recorders 2 , which 
provide Hamlet with a text, were ripple-flutes of special construction, 
bored with not less than eight holes and usually kept in a quartet of 
differing compass that they might harmonize together into a consort. 
The same practice obtained with the viols treble, alto, tenor, and 
bass the last of these being the viol da gamba which Sir Andrew 
Aguecheek * played better than any man in Illyria '. The * leero ' 
viol the Italian lira da braccio is occasionally mentioned as an under 
study : the * scoulding violins ', as Mace calls them, though sometimes 
used in ensembles, were still harsh and untuneful ; fitter for the country 
fair than for the ears of civilized society. But by far the most popular 
of all instruments was the lute. As a manly accomplishment it ranked 
but little below the sword indeed Richard Crookback morosely 
complains that grim-visaged War had given it place : it formed an 
essential part of every song accompaniment from Dowland to Campion : 
in the very barbers' shops, where now we have newspapers and comic 
prints, a lute hung ready to solace the waiting customer. Three or four 
kinds of guitar are also mentioned in the compositions of the time 
the cittern, flat-backed and wire-stringed, to the carved head of which 
Holofernes the schoolmaster is disrespectfully compared ; the pandora 
which, in spite of its outlandish name, seems to have been invented 
by a Londoner ; the orphereon, dainty in shape but rather awkward to 
handle ; yet though all these had their votaries the Imperial Votaress 
among them they never challenged the pre-eminence of the lute 
proper. The accusation that it was expensive in strings is indignantly 
denied by its champion Thomas Mace, and if true marks its only fault : 
it was graceful in shape and sweet in tone, effective but not exacting, 
and the music for it was written in a tablature which is one of the 
easiest forms of notation ever invented. A few other instruments might 
be added the transverse flute, the harp, the various kinds of flageolet 
but even without these there is enough to show that the virtuoso of the 
time had an abundance of choice. 

1 The name virginal was then commonly applied to all keyed instruments in which the 
string was plucked with a quill. 

2 See Christopher Welch's Six Lectures on the Recorder. 

W. H. HADOW 67 

Combinations of instruments, so ordered as to produce a harmo 
nious scheme of colour, were as yet somewhat crude and primitive. 
The four viols often doubled and sometimes replaced the singers in 
a madrigal : the bass viol supported the lute in the accompaniments 
of ' aires ' : more elaborate were the consort lessons of Morley and 
Rosseter, written for treble and bass viols, pandora, cittern, and recorder, 
and larger bands of what was commonly called * broken music ' were 
employed for masques and at wedding-feasts. 1 The louder instruments 
hautbois, shawms, trumpets, cornets, sackbuts, and drums were 
usually reserved for occasions of special state and pageantry, and their 
choice seems to have aimed more at volume than at balance of sound. 2 
Indeed one of the oddities of nomenclature is the current adoption of 
the word * noise ', without any malicious intent, for a band of musicians 
and more distinctively of string-players. When the drawer at the 
Boar's Head bids his fellow * see if thou cannot find out Sneak's noise ' 
he is merely making use of an accepted technical term. It is the more 
remarkable because the ' chamber ' music of the time, and especially 
that played upon strings, would seem to our ears soft in tone, and 
except for a few dance measures grave in character. A valuable piece 
of evidence on the whole subject may be found in the third Century of 
Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum : 

All concords and discords of music are (no doubt) sympathies and antipathies ot 
sounds. And so likewise in that music which we call broken music, or consort music, 
some consorts of instruments are sweeter than others (a thing- not sufficiently yet observed) as 
the Irish harp and base viol agree well ; the recorder and stringed music agree well ; organs 
and the voice agree well, &c. : but the virginals and the lute, or the Welsh harp and Irish 
harp, or the voice and pipes alone, agree not so well. But for the melioration of music 
there is yet much left (in this point of exquisite consorts) to try and inquire. 

For some reason, not yet sufficiently explained, the stream of 
ecclesiastical music which had been since the days of Henry VII one of 
the chief glories of English art began at the close of the century to run 
for a while with thinner and shallower volume. Byrd published 
nothing between 1591 and 1607 : Morley wrote some pieces for the 
church service, but his heart was in ballet and madrigal : Bering, 
Tomkins, Gibbons, belong to the later period. It would, perhaps, be 
indiscreet to attribute to this the fact that Shakespeare makes hardly 

1 See Galpin's Old English Instrtiments of Music, ch. xv, 4 The Consort.' 

2 The band which played at Queen Elizabeth's funeral comprised seven each ot 
violins, recorders, and flutes, six hautbois and sackbuts, six ' lutes and others ', four 
* drums and fifes ', and no less than twenty -two trumpets. See The King's Music, by 
H. C. de Lafontaine, p. 45. 

F 2 


any mention of church music, except of the unorthodox sort illustrated 
by the dirge in Much Ado About Nothing. Falstaff incredibly maintains 
that he lost his voice * singing of anthems ', but even he admits that he 
has * forgotten what the inside of a church is made of ', and of his 
fellow choristers there are few or none. At the same time Shakespeare 
good-humouredly banters an abuse from which our church music has 
often suffered the forcible adaptation to sacred words of incongruous 
secular melodies. The * puritan ' in The Winter's Tale, who * sang 
psalms to hornpipes *, is hardly a caricature : Greensleeves, in spite of 
Mistress Page's protest, was actually * moralized to the Scriptures ' 
and used as a hymn. Among the secular vocal forms the madrigal held 
pride of place : next came the aires and ballets, of lighter character 
and, as a rule, of more recurrent rhythm. The aires add an interesting 
chapter to the history of the solo song. Dowland writes them in four 
parts, * so made that all the parts together or either of them severally 
may be sung to the lute orpherion or viol de gambo '. Campion, a few 
years later, writes in the first instance for the solo voice, but adds that 
* upon occasion they have been filled in with more parts which whoso 
pleases may use, who likes not may leave '. It is possible that the 
difference marks a definite advance in the skill and proficiency of the 
singer. Most of Shakespeare's soloists are boys or women, and of the 
two most notable exceptions one is, for a vocalist, unusually profuse in 
apologies. 1 

There were four chief types of instrumental music : descriptive 
pieces, like Mundy's * Weather ' and the * Stag hunt ' of Tobias Hume ; 
airs with variations ; fantasies or fancies, not the artless ditties of 
Justice Shallow but elaborate contrapuntal pieces which developed 
during this period into the organized structure of the fugue ; and, most 
widely beloved of all, the dance-measures. The first English collection 
of dances appears to be that which Anthony Holborne published in 
1599, but before this there were many examples in common use : the 
pavan, called par excellence ' the measure ', and described by Beatrice 
as * full of state and ancientry ' ; the galliard or sink-a-pace, which 
followed it as the humorous servant follows the hero in a Spanish 
comedy ; the almain, with its strong rhythm and its texture of crotchets ; 
the jig, as * hot and hasty ' as courtship, * and full as fantastical '. The 
choice is narrower than that of contemporary French music, narrower 
even than that of our own seventeenth century, but it bears full witness 
to the joy and delight of dancing, and it spreads through the plays from 

1 Much Ado About Nothing, II. in. 

W. H. HADOW 69 

the pageantry of Capulet or Leonato to the Hay of honest Dull, and the 
bergomask of the Athenian clowns. 

When music entered so deeply into the life of the people it is 
natural that it should occupy a considerable place in dramatic repre 
sentation. 1 The performance usually began with a flourish of trumpets, 
their cue given, as Dekker said, by * the quaking prologue ' ; trumpets 
and drums were used for the entry of great personages, or for the 
martial music of battles ; the banquet in Timon has its consort of 
hautbois, As You Like It ends with a dance, Twelfth Night with a song. 
The dumb-shows were accompanied by instruments often specially 
chosen for dramatic effect : dance-music whiled away the time between 
the acts of Comedy, and not improbably between the acts of Tragedy 
as well. Private theatres, influenced no doubt by Italian usage, em 
ployed highly skilled bands of performers and installed them in a music- 
room at the side of the stage : public theatres, where the accommodation 
was narrower and the musicians of humbler rank, sent them to the 
tiring-room or the balcony, or some other place of makeshift, where the 
audience criticized them unmercifully and often interrupted them to 
call for a favourite tune. It was all very simple and unsophisticated, 
but it had far more vitality than the self-conscious and Alexandrine 
art of a later day. 

For the central characteristic of all our Elizabethan music is its 
spontaneity. Not that it was unlearned the madrigal composers 
were men of immense learning but from highest to lowest it was 
infused with the large elemental feelings of our common humanity. 
The same spirit of adventure which animated explorers and seamen 
ran through every pulse of the national life : the vigour and manhood 
which could do everything because it dared everything, conquered the 
provinces of art as it overran the Indies or circumnavigated the globe. 
There is no truth in the saying that the arts have prospered best amid 
a decadent people : they are the natural expression of chivalry and 
fearlessness and high enterprise. Shakespeare consummated the 
greatest age in our history : it is no coincidence that he found among 
his contemporaries a music which we have never surpassed. 

1 See, on this subject, Mr. Cowling's excellent monograph Music on the Shakespearean 




VERY few of Shakespeare's plays deal with music as minutely as is 
done in The Taming of the Shrew. The lover's disguise as a music- 
master, that situation which Beaumarchais and Rossini turned to such 
good account in later years, amply justifies a freer use of technical terms 
than Shakespeare allows himself elsewhere. And it is curious that even 
apart from the character of Hortensio, another musical allusion is made, 
in the scene where Petruchio wrings Grumio by the ears, and says 
' I'll try how you can sol-fa and sing it ! ' It would almost seem as 
though, in view of the very technical passage that was to come in 
Act in, Shakespeare felt at liberty to make a joke that only the more 
musical people in the audience would understand. Besides the use of 
the syllables sol-fa in musical notation, these two were used, of course 
by derivation from the other meaning, to denote the stick or roll of 
paper for beating time. It is at least possible that the order to Grumio 
to knock at Hortensio 's door implies that the servant had a stick in 
his hand. 

In the scene where Hortensio has the lute broken over his head 
appears the pun on the word * fret ' which was afterwards repeated 
in Hamlet. There the joke is a little forced, for a recorder, being a 
wind instrument, has no frets. Frets are an essential feature of instru 
ments of the lute family ; they are the fixed or movable bars across the 
fingerboard which make it easier for the player to keep in tune, and the 
absence of which gives the violin and its kindred the great power of slight 
gradations in pitch, as well as making them the hardest of all to play. 
The epithet * twangling Jack ', later in Hortensio 's tale of Katharine's 
behaviour, is of course the common allusion to the little pieces of wood 
that hold the quill or leather plectra in the early keyboard instruments, 
such as the virginal and harpsichord. To call a lutenist a * fiddler ' 
or to allude to the virginal would no doubt be as much of an insult in 


Shakespeare's time as it was, down to the end of last century, 
to call any musical person a ' fiddler ' ; there must be many living 
who remember the term being applied to musical people generally 
as a sneer. 

Coming now to the longest of the musical passages in the play, the 
lesson in the gamut in which Hortensio declares himself as Bianca's 
lover, it is clear that the music-lesson is a parallel, more or less close, to 
the Latin lesson given by Lucentio, and as that is pure nonsense that 
is to say, as the Latin words have no sort of connexion with the con 
versation of the lovers it is possible to assume that the musical 
terms are equally removed from the phrases used by Hortensio. But 
I think that the music-lesson has a little more method than the Latin 
one, or at least there are in it more suggestions taken from the musical 
terms used. As I fear that very few musicians in the present day could 
honestly say with Bianca, that they are * past the gamut long ago ' 
(at least, in the sense of having learnt it in their youth), perhaps a 
short explanation of its nature may not be out of place, since it 
served a very real purpose in the music of its time, and without 
some knowledge of what that purpose was, we shall be, like many 
of the older editors of the plays, at a loss to explain some of Horten 
sio 's love-making. 

As soon as the art of music was freed from the dominion of the old 
modes (usually called * ecclesiastical ' for no reason except that the 
plain-song of the Church preserved them in written music), and found 
it possible to pass from one key to another nearly related to it, they saw 
that there was a key on each side, as it were, of the central or * natural ' 
key of C, to which modulation could readily be effected. That of G, 
the scale of which was called the hexachordum durum , had all the notes 
of its hexachord inside the scale of C, since the differential note, F, on 
which the modulation chiefly depended, lay outside the hexachordum 
durum. On the other side of the hexachordum naturale (the first six 
notes of the scale of C), there lay the hexachordum molle (the scale of F), 
so-called because its characteristic fourth note must be flattened in order 
to conform to the pattern of the others, in which the first semitone must 
always occur between the third note and the fourth. The old syllables, 
derived from the initial syllables of a hymn * Ut queant laxis ', to 
St. John Baptist, were useful as showing the place of the semitones, 
whatever the pitch. So the names ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la always stood 
for the first notes of the major scale, with a semitone always between 
mi and fa. In order that the starting-points of these three scales should 


be remembered, a table was constructed in which the scales were given 
with their * sol-fa ' equivalents : 








Uf n 



la mi 
sol re 


F *' 


fa ut 



la sol 




B II? 

t>fa tjmi 


sol re ut 
fa ut 

.b la mi 
D sol re - 
C fa ut 
B mi- 
A re 

At the same time the table showed the great stave of eleven lines, on 
which, using also the spaces between them, all the notes of the seven 
hexachords were included, there being one line above the gamut, called 
now the treble F. Here we have the usual two staves of pianoforte 
music, with the line for middle C shown as dotted. On this line was 
placed the C clef, that stumbling-block to the readers of to-day. The 
names by which the individual notes were known were made up by 
reading across the table. Thus the highest note was called * E la ', the 
next ' D la sol ', and so on. As the gamut was always taught from the 
bottom, the first note, from which the table took its name, was called 
* Gamma ut ' or * Gamut ', because the Greek letter was used for the 
note that had been added below the limits of the old tetrachords (called 
Tr/joo-Aa/ijQai/d/iei/oy). As the second hexachord does not start until the 
note C, the two notes between it and the lowest have only one name 
each, * A re ' and * B mi '. The beginning of the second hexachord is 
indicated by the name ' C fa ut ', and the remaining two notes of the 


first hexachord are ' D sol re ' and ' E la mi '. These names were used, 
down to the times of the old English Church composers, for the keys 
in which their anthems and services were composed. What we should 
now call the key of E minor, for example, was known as that of * E la mi ', 
and afterwards as * the key of E with the lesser third '. 

As I have already said, the first necessary alteration of note took 
place at the upper B, since it served not only as the third, or mi of the 
major scale, but as the fourth, or fa of the scale beginning on F. In 
this capacity it had to be flattened, to make it a semitone above the mi, 
the note A. The two forms of the note B were expressed by two forms 
of the written letter, one by the round b of the cursive alphabet, the 
other by the gothic letter b. These two are of course the origin of the 
modern signs for the flat (i>) and sharp (#) 1 respectively. 

Bearing in mind as much as may be of this dull explanation, let 
us consider the written gamut which Bianca reads aloud. The first line, 

Gamut I am, the ground of all accord, 

describes the lowest note of the scale, and sets forth Hortensio's con 
viction that he is an eligible suitor for Bianca. In the line 

4 A re,' to plead Hortensio's passion 

is it too fanciful to suppose that the name of the note suggests the French 
a or Italian , and the form of the phrase * to ' plead, as though he would 
have given it in full, ' a rappresentare Tamore ' or some such words ? 
The note B naturally suggests Bianca 's name, and on this note I shall 
have something more to say presently. One is reminded of the old 
joke in Punch about a song with the refrain ' Be mine ' being appro 
priately set to music in the key of B minor. So little knowledge had the 
printers of the Quarto and the Folios that in them the name of the note 
stands as * Beeme '. The next line possibly derives its form of phrase 
from the word ' ut ', although the relative use of the word * that * does 
not of course represent the conjunction. Leaving for later consideration 
the next line, it may be pointed out that the key called 'E la mi J is 
elegiac in character, and might very well have such words as 4 have pity ' 
set to it. The preceding line, ' " D sol re," one clef, two notes have I/ 
is the one puzzling thing in the verse, for there is no possible sense in 
which that step of the scale can be said to have two notes. The appro- 

1 It is perhaps hardly necessary to add that the sign for the natural (&) is another 
modification of the same letter, introduced later than the other two signs. The sharp and 
flat were anciently used to restore the original pitch after an accidental, as we now use the 


priateness of the words to Hortensio's disguise is obvious, but how do 
they fit the gamut ? The only note of which they can be true is the 
higher B, the octave above * B mi '. For, as explained above, this note 
has to take on two forms, B flat and B natural, according to the different 
hexachords to which it belongs. Are we to suppose that Shakespeare 
did not know this, or that he made Hortensio ignorant of what he pro 
fessed to teach ? I think he wanted the quip about the ambiguity of 
the note B somewhere in his verse, yet to go regularly up the scale for 
five lines more till he got to the upper B would have lengthened out the 
scene unduly ; besides, * B mi ' was already appropriated to Bianca, 
so that he just transferred the ambiguous character of that note to one 
for which there was no special pun. 

It will be noticed that in the table given above the place of the 
notes on the musical stave is taught side by side with the useful, if arbi 
trary, syllables which contain the germ of that well-known adaptation 
of the gamut by Miss Glover, known throughout the British dominions 
as the * Tonic Sol-Fa Notation '. The principle that not merely the 
starting-points of the hexachords, but any and every note of the scale, 
can be viewed as the ut or do (as the tonic, or keynote, is now called) 
of its own scale, is of inestimable value, and the modern develop 
ment of the gamut, the * modulator ' which hangs in every elementary 
schoolroom at the present moment, contains many important truths, of 
some of which most Tonic Sol-Fa teachers seem unaware. It is a sad 
pity that the syllables have become divorced from the staff notation in 
too many cases, so that proficiency in their utterance is popularly 
supposed to be * reading * music at sight. If the two systems had always 
been kept together, with the syllables used as an introduction to the 
staff, as they are in the gamut, the diffusion of real musical skill through 
out the country would be far greater than it is now. Those who find in 
the prevalence of the * new * notation the chief obstacle to real advance 
in the training of choirs in difficult music, will be inclined to say with 
Bianca : 

I like it not: 

Old fashions please me best; I am not so nice, 
To change true rules for odd inventions. 



FROM time to time various attempts have been made to compile 
a complete bibliography of music connected with Shakespeare's plays 
and poems. The most elaborate, if not the most correct, was the List of 
all the Songs and Passages in Shakspere which have been set to Music, 
issued in 1884, as No. 3 of Series VIII of the publications of the New 
Shakspere Society. But this list was in many respects incomplete 
and inaccurate. The work, indeed, is one of very great difficulty and 
would require not only considerable research but also more musical 
knowledge than was possessed by the authors of the New Shakspere 
Society's list. To accomplish it properly some sort of classification would 
be absolutely necessary. In the first rank might be placed Incidental 
Music (vocal and instrumental) intended, like the Shakespearian settings 
of Arne, to accompany stage performances of the various plays ; another 
category should include vocal settings of words by Shakespeare, not 
primarily intended for stage performance ; a third class would be 
devoted to instrumental and vocal works inspired by, or intended to 
illustrate musically, works by Shakespeare ; while a final section could 
be devoted to operas founded on subjects derived from the plays. As 
a contribution to the last of these categories the present notes have been 
drawn up. They have no claim to completeness and are only to be 
looked upon as hints or suggestions for future workers. At the outset 
very great difficulties are encountered, for of all branches of theatrical 
literature that of operatic librettos has been most neglected by biblio 
graphers. Usually printed for special occasions in very small editions, 
the librettos of operas have often appeared without complying with the 
registration formalities of the Copyright Acts, and, in England at least, 
have consequently seldom found their way into public libraries. Even 
when they have done so, they have generally been entered under the 
names of the authors, and who, among many, could say off-hand who 
are the authors of even such well-known works as Beethoven's Fidelio, 
Verdi's Trovatore, or Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel ? When, as in 


the case of the great mass of operas on Shakespearian subjects, we have 
to deal with a number of works which have only enjoyed an ephemeral 
existence, the difficulty is multiplied indefinitely, and we are forced to 
have recourse to the standard opera-dictionaries of Clement and Larousse 
and Riemann, where the works are entered under their titles. But 
here fresh difficulties are encountered, for it is often impossible to tell 
from their titles whether the operas are really based on Shakespeare, 
and even whether they are operas at all, or only productions of Shake 
speare's plays interlarded with additional music, as in the case of the 
many so-called operas for which Sir Henry Bishop was responsible in 
London in the early part of the nineteenth century. Of late the neglected 
subject of opera-librettos seems to have attracted the attention of biblio 
graphers. The Library of Congress (Washington) has acquired what 
is probably the richest collection of such works, and Mr. O. G. Sonneck, 
the librarian in charge of the musical department, has issued an admi 
rably exhaustive catalogue of the earlier part of the collection. The 
British Museum has also turned its attention to librettos and has ac 
quired some valuable collections, which have been incorporated in the 
printed general Catalogue. The whole of this has been recently read 
through and the librettos re-catalogued under the names of the operas, 
with a view to the publication of a libretto-catalogue somewhat on the 
lines of the Library of Congress Catalogue. This work is at present 
still in manuscript, but it has been made use of in drawing up the follow 
ing notes. In their preparation it has been thought best to adopt an 
alphabetical arrangement under the names of the different plays : where 
a play is omitted it is to be understood that no opera on the subject has 
been discovered. 

Antony and Cleopatra. 

There is a long list (under * Cleopatre ') in the Dictionnaire Lyrique 
of Clement and Larousse, and another list (under * Kleopatra ') in 
Riemann J s Opern-Handbuch of operas in which Cleopatra is the heroine, 
but it is doubtful whether any of these can be said to be based on Shake 
speare's play. Enna's Cleopatra (1894), Masse 's Nuit de Cleopatre 
(1885), Massenet's CUopdtre (1914), and Collin de Blamont's ballet 
CUopdtre (1748), have no connexion with the play. The Antonius 
und Kleopatra of J. C. Kaflka (1779) and of Count E. F. von Sayn- 
Wittgenstein (1883), an d R- Kreutzer's ballet Les Amours d'Antoine et 
de CUopdtre (1808) seem possibly, from their titles, to be founded on 


As You Like It. 

The play was turned into an opera by P. A. Rolli for Francesco 
Maria Veracini and produced as Rosalinda during the composer's visit 
to London in 1744. There are other operas with the same name : 
La Rosalinda, by G. M. Capelli (Venice, 1692) and by M. A. Ziani 
(Venice, 1693), but these have no connexion with Shakespeare's comedy, 
nor has the Rosalinda of J. Lockman and J. C. Smith (London, 1740). 
There are also two operas called Rosalinde by N. A. Strungk (Leipzig, 
1695) and F. van Duyse (Antwerp, 1864) as to which information is 
wanting. As You Like It was played in London in 1824, arranged as an 
opera by Bishop. 

The Comedy of Errors. 

A musical pasticcio by Bishop was concocted on the play and pro 
duced in London in 1819. 


Numerous old Italian operas on Coriolanus, generally entitled 
Caio Marzio Coriolano, are recorded in the dictionaries, but it is un 
certain whether any of them are founded on Shakespeare. 


The librettos of the earlier Italian works on Hamlet were generally 
by Apostolo Zeno and P. Pariati ; the French adaptation by Ducis was 
made use of later. Operas by the following composers are recorded 
(in chronological order) : C. F. Gasparini (Rome, 1705 played in 
London in 1712), Domenico Scarlatti (Rome, 1715), G. Carcano (Venice, 
1742), Caruso (Florence, 1790), Foppa (Padua, 1792), Andreozzi 
(Genoa, 1793), Count von Gallenberg a * Pantomime tragique ' 
(Paris, 1816), Mercadante (Milan, 1823), Mareczek (Briinn, 1840), 
Buzzola (Venice, 1848), Moroni (Rome, 1860), Faccio book by Boito 
(Genoa, 1865), Ambroise Thomas (Paris, 1868), A. Stadtfeld (Bonn, 
1881), and A. Hignard (Nantes, 1888). Of all these, only Ambroise 
Thomas's opera survived for a time. To judge by the few excerpts that 
have been published, Faccio 's work was the most remarkable of the 
long series ; it had the advantage of an admirable libretto, in which 
Shakespeare's tragedy was closely followed. 


Julius Caesar. 

There are innumerable operas mostly of the eighteenth century 
on Julius Caesar y as to which Riemann and Clement and Larousse may 
be consulted. But it is very doubtful whether any of them are founded 
on Shakespeare. 

King Henry IV. 

The early career of Henry V has formed the subject of a certain 
number of operas, but most of these (e. g. Herold's La Gioventh di 
Enrico V (Naples, 1817), and Pacini's work with the same title (Rome, 
1821)) have nothing to do with Shakespeare. An exception is Merca- 
dante's Gioventh di Enrico V (Milan, 1834), the libretto of which, by 
F. Romani, is founded on Shakespeare's Henry IV. Further informa 
tion is desirable as to P. J. de Voider 's Lajeunesse de Henri Cinq (Ghent, 
c. 1825) an d other operas on the same subject recorded in the dictionaries. 
The Falstaff scenes may have been used in some of the operas of that 
name, but they are here entered under The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

King Lear. 

The earliest opera on this tragedy seems to be the Cordelia of 
C. Kreutzer (Donaueschingen, 1819) ; the same title is borne by works 
by Seme'ladis (Versailles, 1854) and Gobati (Bologna, 1881). A Lear 
by A. Reynaud saw the light at Toulouse in 1888. The Cordelia of 
the Russian composer N. T. Solowiew (1885) is founded on Sardou's 
La Haine ; the subject is quite different from Shakespeare's tragedy. 
It is well known that Verdi at one time thought of taking Lear as the 
subject of an opera, but unfortunately the idea was never carried out. 

King Richard HI. 

G. Salvayre's Richard HI (Petrograd, 1883) is founded on Shake 
speare's play, though much altered. The Riccardo III of G. B. Meiners 
(Milan, 1859), on tne other hand, has no connexion with the English 
poet. As to the Richardus Impius Angliae Rex of J. Eberlin (Salzburg, 
1750) and the Riccardo HI of L. Canepa (Milan, 1879), information is 



Much incidental music has been written for Macbeth, but the 
subject has not escaped the attention of librettists. It was treated as 
a Ballo tragico by F. Clerico (Milan, 1802), and again as a Ballo 
mimico by C. Pugni (Milan, 1830) a very curious work, in the sleep 
walking scene of which Lady Macbeth kills her own son, thinking he is 
Duncan ! 

The earliest opera on the subject seems to be the Macbeth of 
H. Chelard (Paris, 1827), played in London in 1832, the libretto of 
which was by the composer of the Marseillaise, Rouget de PIsle, who 
has given Duncan a daughter and introduced the sleep-walking scene 
before the discovery of the King's murder. Taubert's Macbeth (Berlin, 
1857) follows the tragedy fairly closely. There is an early opera on 
Macbeth by Verdi, originally produced in Florence in 1847 and revised 
and partly rewritten for Paris in 1865. In spite of some fine passages 
there is little in the work to foreshadow the composer's great achieve 
ments in Otello and Falstaff : the opera is written in the conventional 
Italian idiom of the day and it has never survived. The most recent 
musical drama on Shakespeare's tragedy is the Macbeth of E. Bloch, 
played at the Paris Opera Comique in 1910. It is interesting to note that 
in 1809 there was published the First Act of a libretto on Macbeth by 
J. von Collin : sketches by Beethoven for an overture and chorus in this 
were printed by G. Nottebohm in the Musikalisches Wochenblatt for 1879. 

The Merchant of Venice. 

The only opera on this play was composed by C. Pinsuti and pro 
duced at Milan in 1874. Clement and Larousse record a Dutch opera 
on the subject, by J. A. Just, performed at Amsterdam about 1787, but 
this work is the Koopman van Smyrna, first produced at Bonn in 

The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

An obscure violinist named Papavoine seems to have been the first 
to use this play as the foundation of an opera. His work, entitled Le 
Vieux Coquet, was produced in Paris in 1761, but was withdrawn 
after one performance. There are German operas on the play by 
P. Ritter (Mannheim, 1794) and Ditters von Dittersdorf (Oels, 1796) as 


to which little seems to be known. Salieri's Falstaff t osia Le ire 
Burle (Dresden, 1799) has a good libretto, printed in Italian and 
German. A musical version of the play, chiefly by Braham, Horn, and 
Parry, was produced in London in 1823. An Italian opera Falstaff 
by Balfe (London, 1838), Otto Nicolai's Die Lustigen Weiber von 
Windsor (Berlin, 1849), Adolphe Adam's Falstaff (Paris, 1856), and 
Verdi's Falstaff (Milan, 1893) complete the list. It is curious that 
the Merry Wives should have given rise to two operas like that of 
Nicolai which has enjoyed longer popularity than any other Shake 
spearian opera and the Falstaff of Verdi, a work of consummate genius 
which the public has never yet appreciated at its real value. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

This is one of the earliest of Shakespeare's plays which was laid 
hands on for operatic purposes. It was turned by some anonymous 
adaptor into a (so-called) opera, with admirable music by Henry Purcell, 
produced in London in 1692. The adaptation is very curious, for 
Shakespeare's dialogue is partly retained, while the musical additions 
have the least possible relation to the play, with the result that not one 
word of Shakespeare's has been set by Purcell. Other operas on the 
play are The Fairies , by J. C. Smith (London, 1755), and (probably) 
Manusardi's Un Sogno di Primavera (Milan, 1842) ; Busby's Fair 
Fugitives (London, 1803), which is given in some dictionaries as 
founded on Shakespeare, has nothing to do with the play, nor have 
Ambroise Thomas's Songe d'une Nuit d'fite (Paris, 1850) and Offen 
bach's Reve d'une Nuit d y ti (Paris, 1855). The Zarzuela El Sueno 
de una Noche de Verano, by Gaztambide (Madrid, 1852), probably 
belongs to the same category as the two last-named works. A musical 
version of Shakespeare's play was produced by Bishop in London in 
1816 and the Clowns' Masque forms the foundation of the Pyramus 
and Thisbe of Leveridge (London, 1716) and of Lampe (London, 1745). 

Much Ado About Nothing. 

There are four operas founded on this play, viz. Beatrice et Benedict, 
by Berlioz (Baden-Baden, 1862) ; Beaucoup de Bruit pour rien, by P. Puget 
(Paris, 1899); Much Ado About Nothing, by Stanford (London, 1900) 
and Ero, by C. Podesta (Cremona, 1900). 



Rossini's Otello (Naples, 1816) enjoyed a long run of popularity, 
but seems now to be defunct ; a Ballo Tragico, arranged by S. Vigano 
(composer not stated), was produced in Milan in 1818, and the same place 
saw in 1887 the first performance of Verdi's Otello, the composer's 
operatic masterpiece. A * Juguete comico lirico ' by M. Nieto, entitled 
Oteloy Desdemona (Madrid, 1883), has nothing to do with Shakespeare's 

Romeo and Juliet. 

This play has formed the basis of a very large number of operas 
and ballets, with various titles. The earliest seems to be a Dramma 
per musica in two Acts, published at Berlin in 1773, without any com 
poser's name. It was followed in quick succession by works on the 
same subject by G. Benda (Gotha, 1776), J. G. Schwanenberg (Leipzig, 
1776), L. Marescalchi (Rome, 1789), S. von Rumling (Munich, 1790), 
Dalayrac (Paris, 1792), Steibelt (Paris, 1793), Zingarelli (Milan, 1796), 
Porta (Paris, 1806), I. Schuster (Vienna, 1808), P. C. Guglielmi (London, 
1810), Vaccai (Milan, 1825), Bellini (Venice, 1830), a ballet without 
composer's name (Milan, 1830), F. Gioja a ballet (Milan, 1833), 
Marchetti (Trieste, 1865), Gounod (Paris, 1867), A. Mercadal (Mahon, 
1873), Marquis d'lvry (Paris, 1878), and H. R. Shelley (published in 
New York, 1901). An operatic version of Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette 
symphony was published in Paris c. 1880. 

The Taming of the Shrew. 

A musical version, chiefly by Beaham and T. S. Cooke, saw the 
light in London in 1828, but the only real opera on the play is H. Goetz's 
Der Widerspdnstigen Zdhmung (Mannheim, 1874), an excellent work 
which seems to have fallen into undeserved neglect. The ballad farce 
A Cure for a Scold (London, 1735) is founded on Shakespeare's play, 
but considerably altered (by James Worsdale). V. Martin's Capricciosa 
corretta (Lisbon, 1797), mentioned in some of the dictionaries, has an 
entirely different plot. 

The Tempest. 

There is more difficulty in giving a correct list of operas on this 
play than in any other case, owing to the uncertainty as to dates and to 



the habit which musical lexicographers have of assuming that every 
work called La Tempesta, Der Geisterinsel, Der Sturm, &c., must be 
based on Shakespeare. The following list is therefore entirely tentative 
and subject to revision. The earliest opera on the play is the version 
of Thomas Shad well, with music by Matthew Locke, played in London 
in 1673. This seems to have been revised in 1676 and again in 1690 or 
1695 (the date has never been definitely ascertained) with the well- 
known and beautiful music of Henry Purcell. Other operas recorded 
as being on the same subject are as follows : J. C. Smith (London, 
1756) ; Aspelmayr (Vienna, 1782) ; J. H. Rolle (Berlin, 1784) ; Fabrizi 
(Rome, 1788) ; Winter (Munich, 1793) ; Fleischmann (Ratisbon, 
1796) ; Reichardt (Berlin, 1798) ; Wenzel Miiller (Vienna, 1798) ; 
Zumsteeg (Stuttgart, 1798) ; P. Ritter (Aurich, 1799) ; Caruso (Naples, 
1799) ; J. H. Hensel (Hirschberg, 1799) ; P. Wranitzky (c. 1800) ; 
A. J. Emmert (Salzburg, 1806) ; E. Raymond (c. 1840) ; Rung (Copen 
hagen, 1847); Halevy (London, 1850) ; Napravnik (Prague, c. 1860); 
Kaschperov (Petrograd, 1867) ; Urich (probably not on Shakespeare, 
Brussels, 1879) J Chapi (a zarzuela, almost certainly not on Shakespeare, 
Madrid, 1883) > E. Frank (Hanover, 1887) ; Urspruch (Frankfurt, 
1888) ; Ambroise Thomas (a ballet, Paris, 1889) ; and Z. Fibich (Prague, 

Timon of Athens. 

The Timone Misantropo of the Emperor Leopold I (Vienna, 1696) 
was probably founded on Shakespeare's play. 

Twelfth Night. 

A musical version was produced by Bishop in London in 1820, 
but the only genuine opera from the play seems to be the Cesario of 
W. Taubert (Berlin, 1874). 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 
Bishop produced a musical version, played in London in 1821. 

The Winter's Tale. 

This play forms the basis of the Hertnione of Max Bruch (Berlin, 


Owing to the incomplete character of the above lists, it is not 
possible, without further research, to give definite statistics as to the 
operas that have been derived from Shakespeare's plays. But it is 
clearly evident that The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet have proved the 
most tempting subjects to librettists, followed closely by Hamlet and 
longo intervallo by The Merry Wives of Windsor. As to the nationality 
of the composers, probably we shall not be far wrong in giving them as 
about thirty-three per cent. Italian, thirty per cent. German, nine 
teen per cent. French, eleven per cent. English, and the remainder of 
other nationalities. 


G 2 



AN artist may seem out of place in this procession of the initiated 
and his rustic pipe unworthy of its subject. * Tristis at ille, tamen 
cantabunt Arcades' Shakespeare is our common heritage. He exists 
for all, not only for the scholar and the critic, and however inadequate 
its expression, our gratitude for all that we owe to this surpassing genius 
is not less fervent and sincere than theirs. What that feeling is I will 
endeavour to define. 

It has been suggested that this obligation may have some special 
bearing in the case of artists, that is, as I take it, that they may have 
found in Shakespeare direct technical motives in their several arts. 
Industrious students have collected references to the arts in his works, 
and have even sought to draw up a sort of aesthetic of Shakespeare. 

To me this seems false criticism, and the wrong point of view from 
which to approach him. Literature and the arts have their own limits 
and conditions, and they are by no means interchangeable, and when 
Shakespeare turned to the arts, he used them as he used all nature, for 
the setting and environment of his humanity, to give the atmosphere 
he wanted, and without any ulterior intention. He drew on what he 
saw or had heard, without formulating to himself any theory of the 
arts, without any idea of providing in his word-paintings matter for 
direct translation into terms of graphic or plastic art. That his plays 
have provided inexhaustible subjects for illustration does not affect the 
point that Shakespeare's attitude to the arts was objective, and that when 
he refers to them he does so, not from the technical standpoint of an 
artist, but from that of a poet and a student and observer of universal 
nature. There is the famous word-picture in the Rape of Lucrece, 
where the poet gives a panorama of the siege of Troy adding scene to 
scene and detail to detail with a profusion which would be simply im 
possible in an actual picture. The poet no doubt had some picture 
before him, and let his fancy play on it in order to convey to his reader 
a cumulative impression of all the turmoil and emotions of the siege 


of Troy, but it would be the first business of a painter to eliminate the 
greater part of the detail which came within the scope of the poet's 
imagination. One might as well attempt to design a house from 
Bacon's Essay, as attempt to convey in any one picture the impressions 
given by Shakespeare's verse. Poets do not exist to write specifications 
for architects and painters. 

Yet this in no way affects our debt of gratitude to Shakespeare. 
The common basis of all imaginative art is our humanity, our likes 
and dislikes, our hopes and fears, our ideals and our scheme of values ; 
and the man who most of all extends the range of our outlook, quickens 
our imagination and teaches us to see beauty everywhere, and to discern 
the vital interests of life, is the man to whom we shall turn again and 
again, with ever-increasing gratitude. In Shakespeare, more than in 
any poet or playwright that has ever lived, we find this teacher. The 
wise old Latin prided himself on his interest in all humanity. Shake 
speare had that interest in a transcendent degree, because he did not 
limit his interest to men and cities, but included in his outlook the whole 
range of nature with man as part of it. So it is, that he has provided an 
immense spiritual background for all imaginative artists. He has done 
the one supreme thing. He has given us not only visions but the power 
of seeing, and he has given us this power unreservedly and with the 
inexhaustible bounty of some great natural force. Other writers of 
genius have their own special conditions. The splendid verse of 
Milton, Swift's clean-cut prose, Keat's lyrics, require their own mood, 
their own particular temperament for their full appreciation. It is not 
so with Shakespeare. He appeals to us anywhere and under all con 
ditions with the inexhaustible richness of his genius, with a certain 
universality that passes beyond the limits of time and local circumstance. 

Literature alone survives in strenuous times, and not only survives 
but seems to burn with brighter and more ardent fires. Shakespeare's 
age was the age par excellence of great adventure, and then, as now, 
Englishmen were fighting for their lives and liberties, for their ideals 
and for all that makes life worth living for themselves and their posterity, 
and that age remains the period of the unrivalled flowering of English 
literature with no real counterpart in the arts of the time. The writer 
was ahead of the artist. He had grasped the spirit of the far-away 
Renaissance, its large humanity, its spacious outlook, when our sculptors 
and our painters had not yet recovered their heritage, and our builders still 
thought in terms of Gothic, however much they might try to catch the 
fashion with their travesties of the orders . The man of ideas , the man who 


had to realize his ideas clearly in order to make them articulate, was 
generations ahead of the artist who plodded humbly in his wake, a figure 
not without pathetic interest in its gropings after ideals ill-understood. 
John Shute might say of his treatise of the orders, * That with it as with 
a klew or thread, or plaine pathway a man may most easily pearse and 
lightly pasover the most darke and unknown corners of the whole 
process ' of Architecture. The thread snapped in the hand of the user. 
Elizabethan architecture and Elizabethan art generally stand on a very 
different plane from that of Elizabethan literature. It is dear to us for 
its associations, not for its intrinsic value. We like to think of the low 
browed, half-timbered hostelries in which Falstaff took his pleasures, 
of Justice Shallow's trim garden and orchard * where in an arbour we 
will eat a last year's pippin of my own graffing ', of rare and curious 
jewellery because Elizabeth and her ladies wear it, of the quaint em 
broidery of their gowns, of all that kindly, homely art that we associate 
with the England of Elizabeth. 

But if we turn on to it the cold dry light of historical criticism we 
have to admit that it is not first-rate, not very important in the history 
of art, a very humble companion of our sixteenth-century literature. We 
may love it for what it means to us, but we should be under no illusion 
as to its relative position in the history of art. In other ages the painter, 
the sculptor, and the architect, have as much to say to us as the writer. 
Michael Angelo dominates Italy of the sixteenth century, Wren speaks 
to us as clearly as Dryden, Turner's vision of nature impresses us more 
than the poetry of Wordsworth, but the England of Elizabeth will 
always be summed up for us in the plays and poetry of Shakespeare ; 
they are the real setting and background of that splendid age. 

One would have thought that there could be no misconception 
as to a figure so typically English. The Germans have claimed him for 
their own, yet it is impossible to conceive anything more remote from 
Shakespeare's serene and happy genius than the modern German 
attitude to life, to nature, and to art, than the habit of mind that finds its 
pleasure in the dissonances of Strauss, that conceives of the masterpieces 
of Greek Tragedy in the terms of a blatant showman, that prefers the 
horrible and morbid to the beauty of the cloud in the sky, the wind in 
the reeds, beauty of movement, form, and colour. We turn to Shake 
speare and find the clearest and cleanest mind, the sanest thinker that 
has ever written in ours or any other language. His splendid vision saw 
beauty everywhere ; in the sky, in the sea, in the city, in the solitary 
place everything yielded its measure of beauty to his magic touch, and 


beyond and above all price is the large humanity of this extraordinary 
nature, so rich in sympathy, so intense in its sensitiveness to every sort 
of vital impression. 

He has fixed for us the true type of Englishman. I do not mean 
any one special character, but rather a figure as it were that slowly enters 
into our consciousness, that disengages itself from the complexity of his 
creations as the standard and ideal of all Englishmen. Our race has its 
manifold weaknesses, but it has never yet wholly failed in its passionate 
love of freedom and justice, its hatred of oppression and sympathy with 
the weak and lowly, in dogged courage, in keen and ever-present humour, 
and not least of all in that rare capacity for ideals, little suspected by 
those who do not know us, yet so deep-seated and inveterate that it 
realizes itself not in speech but in action. This is the high ideal of 
character that is recognized by our race throughout the world, and it 
has been set for us for all time by the unique and incomparable genius 
of Shakespeare. 


February, 1916. 



WHAT are the points of contact to be noticed between the art of 
Shakespeare as poet and dramatist and the graphic and plastic arts as 
they were known and practised in his time : in other words, where and 
to what extent do we find him showing familiarity with works of painting 
or sculpture or deriving suggestions from them ? In the great kingdom 
of Shakespeare study the province to which these questions point is 
a very small one, but has perhaps not yet been quite thoroughly explored. 
The only contribution I feel qualified to make to the present Memorial 
Volume and a very humble contribution it will be is an examination 
of a particular nook or corner of that province which happens long to 
have interested me. 

I do not intend to discuss the character or conversation of the pro 
fessional painter who plays a part in Timon of Athens ; neither shall 
I dwell on the amatory pictures from Ovid with which the nobleman in 
The Taming of the Shrew (in what is supposed, be it remembered, to be 
the non- Shakespearian part of it) directs his servants to tickle the 
clownish senses of Christopher Sly. Nor shall I revive the old debate 
whether the two pictures between which Hamlet bids his mother make 
comparison in the closet scene were meant to be real pictures or merely 
pictures of the mind, and whether, in the former case, Shakespeare 
thought of them as full-sized portraits or as miniatures as things that 
might have been done, let us say, to instance two among his contem 
poraries, by Mark Garrard or Nicolas Hilliard respectively. I will not 

1 The chief authorities on the works of art referred to are : A. Jubinal, Les Anctennes 
Tapisseries histories ^ Paris, 1838-9; Paul Schumann, Der Trojanisc he anzostsche 
Handzeichnungen zu Teppichen, u.s.w., Dresden, 1898; Jean Guiffrey, Histoire de la 
tapisserie depuis le moyen age, 1886 ; id. ' La Guerre de Troie ', &c., in Revue de I'Ari, 
torn, v (1899) I an< * the Catalogue of the Rheims Museum. 


even let myself though I should like to linger on the question what 
kind of a picture, sacred or profane, an Annunciation to the Shepherds 
or a descent of Mercury on a mission from Jove (for a picture of some 
kind I am sure it was), suggested the enraptured lines in which Romeo 
cries to Juliet that she is 

As glorious to this night, being o'er my head, 
As is a winged messenger of heaven 
Unto the white-upturned wond'ring eyes 
Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him 
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds, 
And sails upon the bosom of the air. 

Personally I can never help associating those lines with the shepherd 
who throws back his head to gaze up at the child angel riding on the 
cloud in that wonderful purple-blue mountain background of Titian 's 
Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine in the National Gallery 
a picture which Shakespeare is quite unlikely to have seen. Again, with 
reference to the famous speech of Jaques in As You Like It about the 
seven ages of man, seeing that the subject was a stock one alike in 
morality play and masque, in paintings and decorations of all kinds, in 
the head-pieces of illuminated and printed calendars and in the woodcuts 
of cheap popular broadsides, I will not ask from which among all the 
many and various current treatments of it, scenic or graphic, Shake 
speare may have taken his cue : I will only allow myself to note in 
passing (I know not whether it has been noted before) a curious identity 
between the phrase of Jaques concerning the type of the fourth age, the 

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, 
Seeking the bubble reputation 
Even in the cannon's mouth, 

and that used by the Italian painter-critic Carlo Ridolfi when he tells 
of a similar figure in a painting, now lost, of the same subject of the 
Ages of Man (or Symbol of Human Life) by Giorgione : * Nel mezzo 
eravi un uomo di robusto aspetto tutto armato . . . pronto di vendicare 
ogni piccola offesa e preparato negli arringhi di Marte a versare il sangue 
per lo desio della gloria.* 

The sole and special passage of Shakespeare on which for the 
present purpose I want the reader to fix his attention is the description 
in his early poem, The Rape of Lucrece, of the painting of the Sack of 
Troy which occupies the eyes and thoughts of the dishonoured matron 
while she waits till her husband Collatine shall come from the camp at 


her summons. It is far the longest account of a work of art in any 
part of Shakespeare's writings, filling a little over two hundred lines. 
For my purpose the first hundred or so must of necessity be quoted 
in full : 

At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece 

Of skilful painting-, made for Priam's Troy ; 

Before the which is drawn the power of Greece, 

For Helen's rape the city to destroy, 

Threatening cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy ; 
Which the conceited painter drew so proud, 
As heaven, it seem'd, to kiss the turrets bow'd. 

A thousand lamentable objects there, 
In scorn of nature, art gave lifeless life ; 
Many a dry drop seem'd a weeping tear, 
Shed for the slaughter'd husband by the wife: 
The red blood reek'd, to show the painter's strife ; 

And dying eyes gleam 'd forth their ashy lights, 

Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights. 

There might you see the labouring pioneer 
Begrimed with sweat, and smeared all with dust ; 
And from the towers of Troy there would appear 
The very eyes of men through loop-holes thrust, 
Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust : 

Such sweet observance in this work was had, 
That one might see those far-off eyes look sad. 

In great commanders grace and majesty 

You might behold, triumphing in their faces; 

In youth quick bearing and dexterity ; 

And here and there the painter interlaces 

Pale cowards, marching on with trembling paces; 
Which heartless peasants did so well resemble, 
That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble. 

In Ajax and Ulysses, O! what art 
Of physiognomy might one behold ; 
The face of either cipher'd cither's heart ; 
Their face their manners most expressly told: 
In Ajax' eyes blunt rage and rigour roll'd; 

But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent 

Show'd deep regard and smiling government. 

There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand, 

As 'twere encouraging the Greeks to fight ; 

Making such sober action with his hand, 

That it beguil'd attention, charm'd the sight. 

In speech, it seem'd, his beard, all silver white, 
Wagg'd up and down, and from his lips did fly 
Thin winding breath, which purl'd up to the sky. 


About him were a press of gaping faces, 

Which seem'd to swallow up his sound advice ; 

All jointly listening, but with several graces, 

As if some mermaid did their ears entice, 

Some high, some low, the painter was so nice; 
The scalps of many, almost hid behind, 
To jump up higher seem'd, to mock the mind. 

Here one man's hand lean'd on another's head, 

His nose being shadow'd by his neighbour's ear; 

Here one being throng'd bears back, all boll'n and red ; 

Another smother'd, seems to pelt and swear; 

And in their rage such signs of rage they bear, 
As, but for loss of Nestor's golden words, 
It seem'd they would debate with angry swords. 

For much imaginary work was there; 
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind, 
That for Achilles' image stood his spear, 
Grip'd in an armed hand ; himself behind, 
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind : 

A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head, 

Stood for the whole to be imagined. 

And from the walls of strong-besieged Troy 
When their brave hope, bold Hector, march'd to field, 
Stood many Trojan mothers, sharing joy 
To see their youthful sons bright weapons wield; 
And to their hope they such odd action yield, 
That through their light joy seemed to appear, 
Like bright things stain'd, a kind of heavy fear. 

And from the strand of Dardan, where they fought, 

To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran, 

Whose waves to imitate the battle sought 

With swelling ridges; and their ranks began 

To break upon the galled shore, and than 
Retire again, till, meeting greater ranks, 
They join and shoot their foam at Simois' banks. 

To this well-painted piece is Lucrece come, 

To find a face where all distress is stell'd. 

Many she sees where cares have carved some, 

But none where all distress and dolour dwell'd, 

Till she despairing Hecuba beheld, 

Staring on Priam's wounds with her old eyes, 
Which bleeding under Pyrrhus' proud foot lies. 

When a poet describes a work of the manual arts at length, it is 
often hard to be sure whether he is working from imagination or from 
something he has really seen and noted with his eyes, or partly from one 
and partly from the other. But there are cases, and this is one, where 
the particularity of the description and the insistence on technical 


details make it certain that actual and interested observation has furnished 
the original material, however much imagination may have added to or 
vivified it. Of what kind, then, we have to ask ourselves, will the 
painting of the Siege of Troy have been which had thus caught and fixed 
Shakespeare's attention in the early years of his career as actor and poet 
in London ? Among the pictures on panel or canvas either executed 
in England by immigrants from Germany or the Low Countries or 
imported from abroad up to this date (1593), the vast majority, according 
to what has always been the chief English national demand, were por 
traits. Subjects of poetry or mythology were not wanting ; but it is 
difficult to conceive that there can have existed any such crowded and 
complicated history or battle piece, figuring many successive scenes 
within the four corners of a single frame, as would answer to the descrip 
tion above quoted. On the other hand, in the spacious figured tapes 
tries that had been coming over since the later years of the fifteenth 
century from the looms of Flanders and northern France such composi 
tions were the rule. The thousand objects to which art, in the painting 
described by the poet, * gave lifeless life ', their number and minuteness, 
the visible tears and blood, the gleam of dying eyes, the expressions in 
the eyes of the men looking out from the loopholes of the tower, the 
multitudinousness of the figures, the diversity and vividness of their 
gestures and expressions, and especially the manner, so precisely 
described, of their crowding and packing above and behind one another 
to the top of the composition all these things, even when we have made 
full allowance for the dramatizing and intensifying effects introduced by 
the play of the poet's imagination, seem to point unmistakably to a work 
on the scale of a great tapestry-hanging, not of an ordinary framed picture 
on panel or canvas. 

But would Shakespeare have called a tapestry a ' painting ' ? We 
have no clear instance of his doing so : but he certainly would have had 
no scruple in giving that name to the imitation tapestries or * painted 
cloths ' which in his day and earlier were so much in use as substitutes 
for or supplements to the costly products of the looms of Arras or 
Brussels. We have a difficulty in realizing all the part played by woven 
or painted hangings in those days, both in the fixed decoration of halls 
and chambers and for show on special occasions and representations. 
Of the cheaper, the painted variety, owing to their fragility and the 
tendency of the distemper colours to scale from the surface, few speci 
mens remain in existence : the most important are four sets in illustration 
of mystery plays preserved until lately in the Museum at Rheims. But 


Shakespeare, even taken by himself, has sufficient references to painted 
cloths to prove their general and familiar use in his day. Remember 
how Costard, in Love's Labour y s Lost, tells Sir Nathaniel, when he has 
broken down in the part of Alexander in the masque, that for a punish 
ment he shall be scraped out of the painted cloth of the Nine Worthies 
and Ajax put in his stead ; and remember FalstafFs ragged regiment, 
' as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth, where the glutton's dog 
licked his sores '. 

But before assuming that the painting, ' made for Priam's Troy ', 
upon which Lucrece is represented poring in her despair, was such 
a painted hanging on the scale and in the manner of tapestry, let us see 
what kind of place the Siege of Troy took among the subjects commonly 
represented in the true works of that craft. In point of fact it is one of 
the subjects for which tapestry designers and weavers, doubtless follow 
ing the taste of the great princes and nobles for whom they worked, had 
a special predilection. Next to series of Bible subjects, among fifteenth- 
century products of the loom, we have remains or records of series of 
Troy subjects in greater number than of any other. Among the com 
paratively recent acquisitions of the Louyre is a set of eight highly 
finished drawings on a small scale for just such a series : examples of the 
' petits patrons ', as they were called, which artists of talent and repute 
were called on to supply and from which were afterwards prepared the 
full-sized cartoons actually used by the weavers at the loom. They date 
from 1480 or a little later ; and among actual Troy tapestries of about 
the same date which are still preserved in fragments or entire, several 
correspond with these very designs and are founded on them. 

One such, belonging to a series which formerly adorned the Chateau 
Bayard in Dauphine, is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum : it 
represents the arrival of Penthesilea to the succour of Troy after the 
death of Hector, her victories, and her final overthrow at the hand of 
Pyrrhus. Another from the same or an exactly similar series, in the 
cathedral of Zamora in Spain, shows a scene of the Iliupersis or final 
destruction of the city. Some of the descriptive French verses found 
pinned in manuscript to the backs of the Louvre drawings are actually 
woven large along the upper margin of this picture. (Both in tapestries 
and their painted imitations it was customary to introduce such inscribed 
borders telling the story represented ; also to identify the persons by 
inscribing their names on their garments or weapons, and sometimes to 
put sayings and sentences on scrolls issuing from their mouths : this is 
what Orlando means in As You Like It when he says, ' I answer you 


right painted cloth '. Portions of another set of tapestries founded on 
the Louvre drawings, formerly in the Chateau d'Aulhac, are now in the 
Court of Justice at Issoire in the Puy-de-D6me, and of yet another in 
the Chateau de Sully in the Loiret. There exist also fragments of other 
sets of somewhat later date and founded on different drawings. 

Thus we have the means of testing by actual comparison how far 
the Troy picture so minutely described in Shakespeare's Lucrece corre 
sponds or fails to correspond with the representations of the subject 
current in French and Flemish tapestries from a hundred years before 
his time. To make that comparison is the object of the present paper. 
It may be necessary to remind readers not specially conversant with the 
subject that the tale of Troy as known to the Middle Ages and the early 
Renaissance was a very different thing from the tale as we know it from 
Homer. To the Middle Ages Homer was only a name and was tradi 
tionally reputed a writer of no credit. Two late and spurious Latin 
writings, one current under the name of Dares of Phrygia, the other under 
that of Dictys of Crete, were the recognized and established authorities 
for the story of the wars of Troy, and were supposed to have been 
translated from Greek originals written by contemporary witnesses of the 
events. From these books, with additions from Virgil and Ovid, were 
compiled all the writings belonging to the Troy cycle which had currency 
in the Middle Ages, including the great monumental work of the cycle, 
the Roman de Troie, spun towards the close of the twelfth century by the 
French court poet Benoit de Sainte-Maure in some 40,000 lines of 
octosyllabic verse. A hundred years later the Sicilian Guido delle 
Colonne compiled from the romance poem of Sainte-Maure a Latin prose 
Historia Destructions Troiae, which became much better known than 
the original, and on which the English poet Lydgate in his turn founded 
his Troy Book, and many other writers their summaries and allusions, 
till an elaborate French prose version in three books, finished in 
1464 by one Raoul Le Fevre, priest and chaplain to Philip Duke of 
Burgundy, gave the story a new lease of life, gaining great popularity in 
the circles which such reading reached and helping to fill men's minds 
with images of the Grecian and Trojan heroes doing battle in the guise 
of mediaeval knights, and so to stimulate the demand for their present 
ment in works of art. As is well known, William Caxton, then resident 
and working in Brussels, began rendering Le Fevre 's Recueil into 
English for his amusement and was encouraged by the English Duchess 
Margaret to complete it : and this translation, finished in 1471 and put 
in type some three years later, under the title Recuyell of the Histories of 


Troy, was the first book ever printed in the English language. It was 
reprinted by Wynkyn de Worde in 1503 and again by Copland in 1553, 
and was familiar to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. 

The tale of Troy, as thus transformed in the Middle Ages and 
popularized at the dawn of the Renaissance, included a vast amount of 
histories both antecedent and subsequent to the main matter of the siege 
and destruction of the city by the Greeks in revenge for the rape of 
Helen ; as for instance the stories of Peleus and Thetis, the history of 
Jason and the Golden Fleece, the lives and achievements of Hercules 
and Theseus, with the first destruction of Troy in vengeance for the 
treachery of Laomedon, the return of the Greek heroes, including the 
murder of Agamemnon, the vengeance of Orestes, and the accidental 
killing of Ulysses by his son. Particularly Le Fevre in his Recueil 
enormously amplifies the preliminaries : it is not until his third book 
that we get to the final siege under Agamemnon. This was the part of 
the story from which the tapestry designers chose their subjects, and 
even so, the matters which they had to illustrate took in much which 
we now think of as foreign to or outside the tale. They have to show 
how Priam dispatched Antenor and other Trojans to plead for the return 
of his sister Hesione, who had been carried off by Hercules to Greece, 
where she became the wife of Telamon ; how, this embassy being ill- 
received, he next sent his son Paris with a company to carry off some 
noble damsel of Greece for whom Hesione might be required in exchange ; 
how Paris, having been called upon by Mercury in a dream to adjudge 
the prize of beauty between the three goddesses, gave it to Venus ; how 
he won the love of Helen and carried her off from the temple of the 
goddess at Cythera ; then his return with Helen to Troy ; the war 
consequently made by the Greeks ; their expedition and landing ; 
the prophecies of Calchas and of Cassandra ; the subsequent series 
of battles before the walls of Troy ; the multifarious actions and 
debates in which the heroes, both Greek and Trojan, play sometimes 
the same parts with which we are familiar from Homer, but sometimes 
parts totally different ; the loves of Troilus and Briseida (or Creseida) ; 
the love of Achilles for Polixena, and his advice to the Greeks to give up 
the siege ; the successive deaths of Hector and of Achilles, the latter 
presently succeeded as foremost Grecian champion by his son Pyrrhus ; 
the succour brought to Troy by the Amazon queen Penthesilea until she 
is slain by Pyrrhus ; the treachery of Antenor, who by bribery betrays 
the sacred image of Pallas into the hands of the Greeks ; the offer of the 
Greeks, as a feigned condition of peace, to requite the loss and appease 

9 6 


the goddess by the gift of a huge horse of brass (not, in the Recueil 
version, of wood) ; the breaking out of the Grecian heroes from their 
concealment within the horse and the ensuing sack and rapine, with the 
murder of Priam in the temple of Apollo ; the taking captive of Hecuba 
and Cassandra and Andromache ; the departure of the Greeks, and the 
sacrifice of Polixena by Pyrrhus on the tomb of his father before that 
departure could be accomplished. 

All this multitude of incidents could not, of course, be told in 
a single tapestry picture, whatever its scale and however crowded its 
composition, but had to be distributed through a series of such pictures. 
The regular process, as documents of the time prove, was to employ 
some learned clerk to prescribe, to the artist employed to make the 
preliminary designs, the order and arrangement of the scenes to be 
represented in each picture if order or arrangement it can be called, 
for the result was essentially a jumble, in which the several scenes were 
crowded in promiscuous contact over and under and beside one another, 
without boundary or separation. The Louvre series of such designs 
contains eight compositions, and the omission of certain subjects seems 
to prove that there were originally more. I here reproduce (Plate I, A) 
a fragment of one of the series showing, above, the scene of the parting 
of Hector and Andromache, Hector being armed for the battle by his 
squire while Andromache kneels holding up their babe and imploring 
him not to go, and his mother and sisters and Helen join in the prayer ; 
and below, the same hero, armed and mounted, encountering in the street 
his father Priam, who with lifted hand dissuades him (a non-Homeric 
incident of the mediaeval versions) from taking the field. Plate I, B 
shows a portion of one of the designs of the same series as actually 
executed in full size on a fragment of tapestry from the Chateau d'Aulhac, 
figuring a battle under the walls of Troy, with Troilus defending the 
wounded Hector against Achilles (' Here manly Hector faints '), and 
below, the death of Memnon, with the Trojan women above, looking 
on from the walls. Plate II reproduces the greater part of the Louvre 
drawing for the scene of the final sack, the same composition as we see 
actually carried out on a great scale in the tapestry in the cathedral of 

Now let us go back to the text of Shakespeare in Lucrece and 
compare it with the examples of tapestry design thus illustrated. It is 
clear that Shakespeare is thinking of a single picture, not of a series, but 
of a picture which included a number of different scenes and actions : 
Nestor haranguing the Greeks, Hector sallying out to battle, Ajax 

Plate I 





quarrelling with Ulysses ; other Greek commanders playing parts un 
defined ; a battle beside the Simois, and the final sack of the city, with 
the murder of Priam and the mourning of Hecuba. This means that the 
design and composition he has in his mind's eye are of the characteristic 
jumbled kind exemplified in our Plate II, where we see the turrets 
of ' cloud-kissing Ilion ' (inscribed * le chateau Ylion ') closing the scene 
at the top, except where we get a glimpse of the Grecian ships to the 
extreme left ; the gates of the city, also to the left, through which the 
Grecian warriors, after their pretended retreat to Tenedos, crowd in by 
the help of their comrades who pour out from the belly of the horse 
(in our reproduction a strip has had to be cut from this left-hand edge 
of the scene). In front of and beyond the horse a confused scene of 
battle and slaughter, with many single combats, is piled up without any 
diminishing effect of perspective to indicate distance. To the right of 
the centre we see, above, the city beginning to flame, Greeks battering 
down the houses with mace and pickaxe, Helen and the other women of 
Priam's household taken captive, and below, the temple of Apollo, with 
Priam slain by Pyrrhus as he clings to the altar, and Hecuba throwing up 
her hands in despair at the sight ; to the extreme right, above, the Greeks 
departing to their ships, and below, as a prelude to their homeward 
voyage, the sacrifice of Polixena by Pyrrhus on the tomb of Achilles. 
This manner of densely crowding the figures above and among and 
behind one another is described in minute detail, and with apparently 
surprised interest, by Shakespeare, in relation, however, not to a war 
like action but to a peaceful one, the discourse of Nestor to the Grecian 
host ; see the seventh, eighth, and ninth stanzas above quoted, beginning 

About him were a press of gaping faces, 

and ending 

A hand, a foot, a lace, a leg, a head, 
Stood for the whole to be imagined. 

This description definitely gives a fifteenth-century character to the 
design which Shakespeare is describing, seeing that in the sixteenth, 
with the growth of Italian influence and the knowledge of perspective, 
this primitive manner of filling the space with superposed and inter- 
tangled crowds was gradually abandoned, in tapestry as in other fields 
of design, for a system of clearer and more scientific distribution. 

Of the other particular incidents mentioned by Shakespeare, some 
can and some cannot be strictly paralleled from the Louvre drawings 
or from tapestries executed after them. Nestor figures in one of the 
drawings, but fighting, not haranguing. The speaking gesture, how- 



ever, which Shakespeare attributes to him (' Making such sober action 
with his hand ') could well be illustrated from other scenes in the 
drawings, as for example that where Antenor and a group of Trojan 
chiefs plan their expedition to Greece, or that in which Achilles urges 
upon the other princes the abandonment of the siege. Neither of these 
is here reproduced : but see the action of Priam as he pleads with Hector 
in our Plate I, A. Plate I, B shows the Trojan women looking out from 
the walls as described by Shakespeare in the tenth stanza of our quota 
tion, though what they are watching is not a scene of gallant setting 
forth but one of battle ferociously engaged. This illustration shows, 
moreover, how the figures in tapestry of this date were habitually 
identified by inscriptions ([polyjdamas, achilles, troillus, hector, le roy 
meno [for Memnon], and so forth). Just so, we may be sure, were 
they identified in Shakespeare's * well-painted piece '. 

Another group on which Shakespeare dwells, as affording Lucrece 
the sight of a misery equal to her own, is that of Priam murdered by 
Pyrrhus, with Hecuba standing by lamenting. A corresponding tapestry 
group is depicted in our Plate II (the figure of Hecuba partly intercepted 
by that of the sacker with his pickaxe raised), dramatically and expres 
sively enough, although the action is not strictly the same as that which 
Shakespeare describes. Representations of this scene in painting or 
tapestry were doubtless much in the mind's eye of Elizabethan writers, 
and served, along with such printed texts as they knew, to suggest those 
lines of Marlowe, in his play of Dido, Queen of Carthage, which Shake 
speare parodies in the well-known scene of Hamlet with the players. 
It is to be noted that in Lucrece, as in the existing tapestries, the scene is 
treated according to the mediaeval version and not according to Virgil, 
who represents all the women of the palace as present at the murder. 

Following the long passage quoted above from Lucrece comes 
another, not needed to be given at length, in which the heroine, accusing 
the picture itself, arraigns the lust of Paris and at the same time cries for 
vengeance on Pyrrhus and the Greeks who are Troy's enemies, and ends : 

Lo, here weeps Hecuba, here Priam dies, 
Here manly Hector faints, here Troilus swounds, 
Here friend by friend in bloody channel lies, 
And friend to friend gives unadvised wounds, 
And one man's lust these many lives confounds: 
Had doting Priam check'd his son's desire, 
Troy had been bright with fame and not with fire. 

Then we have another and longer passage in which, looking round for 
objects of compassion, Lucrece perceives the figure of the traitor Sinon 

Plate II 


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where he stands disguised, in pitiable garb and mien, and inveigles the 
Trojans with the false tale of the wooden horse. She turns upon this 
figure and likens the plausible wickedness of Sinon to that of her own 
betrayer, Tarquin. Now in the mediaeval versions of the Troy story 
Sinon plays a very small part. He is just mentioned as the inventor 
or co-inventor of the wooden (or brazen) horse, and as entering the city 
with it, and no more : probably the figure mounted on the horse in 
Plate II is he. But the story of his feigned tale to Priam, which fills so 
great a place in the second book of the Aeneid, fills none in the Roman 
de Troie or the Recuyell, and it is not from mediaeval tradition but direct 
from Virgil that Shakespeare, or the painter whose work he describes, 
has taken it. 

To sum up, then, we have to conceive of the painting so minutely 
dwelt upon in Shakespeare's Lucrece as a painted cloth or hanging 
designed, in the main, according to the traditions of the French and 
Flemish tapestry-designers of 1480-1500, but already containing scenes 
especially the Sinon scene which did not occur in their accepted 
literary sources, and which accordingly they were not accustomed to 
include. As to the praises which Shakespeare lavishes on the execution, 
the * sweet observance ' in the faces of the women watching from the 
walls, the * grace and majesty ' of the commanders, the subtle * art of 
physiognomy ' in the respective countenances of Ajax and Ulysses, the 
moving representation of 

Time's ruin, beauty's wrack, and grim care's reign 

in Hecuba, the guile shown lurking beneath the tears of Sinon as to 
these, we must attribute at least the chief part of them to the dramatizing 
power of the poet's imagination. Even in the finest works of tapestry 
play of facial expression is, from the nature of the craft, not a strong 
point, and in our existing Troy tapestries much is lost of the not incon 
siderable share of that quality which appears in the Louvre preliminary 
sketches. Painting done with a brush has of course more freedom : but it 
is not likely that the painter of such a figured cloth as we conceive to have 
caught Shakespeare's eye and attention could have been of a rank to 
give his faces a tithe of the living character which the poet claims for 
them, and we must take him as describing, in this respect, not so much 
what he actually found in the picture as what his own genius would 
have prompted him to put there had he been an artist. 

H 2 


FOR some years past I have been making a study of portraiture 
during the Tudor period, a period extending in this purview from the 
death of Holbein, in 1543, to the arrival of Van Dyck, in 1632 ; in short, 
a period of about one hundred years. One hundred years of English 
history ! How much this means and has always meant. Think of the 
hundred years that have been spent since Napoleon Bonaparte lost his 
last stake on the field of Waterloo. Who will be bold enough to foretell 
what may have happened to England before another hundred years 
have elapsed. Three hundred years ago William Shakespeare was laid 
to rest in the church of the Holy Trinity at Stratford-upon-Avon, in 
which town, fifty-two years before, he had first seen the light. In the 
year that William Shakespeare was born Elizabeth had been but six 
years on the throne. All the great actors in the great world-drama of 
the Elizabethan era figured on the stage of history during the lifetime 
of William Shakespeare. Set a number of Elizabethan portraits in rows 
before the eye, men and women together ; add, if you like, portraits of 
ten or twenty years earlier, and ten or twenty years of the reign of King 
James I. Study them well, for in these portraits you will see much of 
the making of England. You will see real men and real women beneath 
the rich and fantastic costumes, which seem so strange to our dullard 
comprehensions. Leicester, Essex, Raleigh, Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins, 
Burghley, Walsingham, Sidney, Queen Bess herself how bright they 
shine in the empyrean of history. Truly this was a Period, perhaps the 
greatest Period in the history of England ! 

During this Period England was in the making. The Tudor sove 
reigns were interlopers, whose very nobility of birth was a matter of 
doubt. Sprung originally from a dubious union between a Welsh 
adventurer and a French queen, grafted on to royal stock by marriage 
with a princess, whose own claim to royal lineage was vitiated by more 
than doubtful legitimacy, the Tudors found themselves confronted with 
the great families who traced their royal or noble lineage to Plantagenet 


and Norman ancestors. The Tudors therefore, from Henry VII to 
Elizabeth, played the people of England against the old nobility, and 
by this encouragement raised the country folk out of the furrows 
of feudalism. Students of family history and genealogy are familiar 
with the rise under the Tudor dynasty of the yeoman farmer to the 
dignity of a gentleman. The spirit of adventure was encouraged, and 
younger sons of the yeoman and the squire sought and won their fortunes 
in commerce, at the law, or in adventures in foreign lands. Then they 
returned and settled back on the land of their birth, where they founded 
noble families of good English stock. 

From such a stock came William Shakespeare, both on his father's 
and his mother's side, from a family of local yeomen righting their way 
up to the ranks of gentility. No man was more thoroughly English than 
Shakespeare, English in the place and circumstances of his birth, English 
in the smattering of education which he got in the local grammar school, 
but which proved as with most Englishmen that * small Latin and 
less Greek ' may be good foundations for success in after life. English 
were the haphazard adventures of his early life at Stratford-upon-Avon, 
and the marriage in which he became, perhaps unintentionally, in 
volved ; English the spirit of adventure which took him up to live by 
his wits in London ; most English of all the way in which he returned, 
when prosperity shone on him, to his native town, with apparently no 
aspirations beyond those of land-ownership and an alderman's gown. 
English also is Shakespeare's own reticence about the circumstances of 
his own life. At no time does he seem to have been conscious of his 
greatness or of the part he was taking in the formation of the national 
character. Shakespeare was throughout life what is sometimes called 
middle-class, but is better described as bourgeois. He liked to be called 
a gentleman, entitled to bear a coat-of-arms, but he always recognized 
the social gulf which lay between him and such high-born magnates as 
the Earls of Pembroke, Southampton, or Leicester. The perils of high 
birth and position were familiar to Shakespeare. Literary gifts had not 
saved Surrey, Wyat, or Raleigh from the block, Philip Sidney from the 
fatal wound at Zutphen, or Francis Bacon from that sad fall from the 
highest post in the land. Shakespeare himself sums up the dangers of 
greatness in the fall of Cardinal Wolsey : 

How wretched 

Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours! 
There is, betwixt the smile we would aspire to, 
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, 
More pangs and fears than wars or women have. 


So much the greater was the achievement of William Shakespeare. 
Sum up all the literature of the great Elizabethan Period and it will be 
found that out of the mass of precious literature, which this Period put 
forth, two creations emerge which have had a share in the shaping of 
the world : the plays of Shakespeare and the Authorized Version of the 
Bible. The English-speaking race has spread itself since Shakespeare's 
day over a great part of the inhabited world, and wherever the English 
race has penetrated and settled it has brought with it Shakespeare and 
the Bible. It was only inexorable fate which prevented Shakespeare 
from being alive when the Mayflower sailed from Southampton to the 
New World. The struggle for the New World was one of the dominating 
ideas of the Elizabethan Period, but it has been the peaceful influence 
of the Bible and Shakespeare which has bound the English-speaking 
races in one chain of family union. All the armaments in the world 
could not have done this. 

Not many years after Shakespeare's death Van Dyck painted the 
Cavalier poet, Sir John Suckling, standing with a folio volume of 
Shakespeare in his hand. Shakespeare might have been alive at the 
time when this portrait was painted, so that this tribute from one poet 
to another may be regarded as contemporary, like that of Ben Jonson. 
Shakespeare was no advertiser of himself or his goods. He never 
obtrudes himself into his works, except perhaps in the Sonnets, which 
are charged with the exaggerated passion and romance of youth. Yet 
throughout the long series of Shakespeare's works, both poems and 
dramas, there is a note of individualism which makes a thought, a phrase, 
a scene, such as could only have been conceived and written by Shake 
speare. With Shakespeare we move in no enchanted palace as with 
Spenser, in no solemn cathedral aisles as with Milton ; we do not tread 
the depths of hell as with Dante, or get merged in the empyrean ; we 
need no guide to scale a mountain height as with Goethe. Shakespeare 
is just ourselves, though he has been dead for three hundred years, our 
never-failing friend and counsellor, whose thoughts are as fresh and 
as bright, as sage and as suggestive, as they were three hundred years ago. 
Shakespeare is immortal because he can never grow old ; although he 
may be looked upon as the final consummation of the great Elizabethan 
Period, his work belongs to the twentieth century as much as to the 

Again, let it be repeated that of no other writings can this be said, 
except the Authorized Version of the Bible. It may safely be said that 
the sun never sets on Shakespeare and the Bible. Three hundred years 


have elapsed since William Shakespeare was laid to rest at Stratford- 
upon-Avon, but in every part of the globe, wherever the English heart 
beats true, Shakespeare's words ring as loud and true to-day as they 
did when King Henry V first spoke them on the boards of the Globe 
Theatre : 

On, on, you noblest English, 

Whose blood is fetch'd from fathers of war-proof! 
Fathers, that like so many Alexanders, 
Have in these parts from morn till even fought, 
And sheath'd their swords for lack of argument : 
Dishonour not your mothers ; now attest, 
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you. 
Be copy now to men of grosser blood, 
And teach them how to war; and you, good yeomen, 
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here 
The mettle of your pasture ; let us swear 
That you are worth your breeding, which I doubt not : 
For there is none of you so mean and base, 
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes; 
I see you stand like greyhounds on the slips, 
Straining upon the start. The game's a-foot: 
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge, 
Cry, God for Harry, England, and Saint George. 

Nobles and yeomen, officers and men, hand in hand, are facing the 
strongest enemy that England has ever known, stronger than the Spain 
which threatened England in the days of Elizabeth, stronger than the 
France of Joan of Arc or of Napoleon. The greatness of England is 
mirrored throughout the works of Shakespeare. It is fitting that at 
such a crisis in the history of England the nation should be called upon 
to remember the truest, the most complete Englishman, not only of the 
Elizabethan Period, but of our own England, our own Empire, and our 
relations in the United States of America ; the England, not only of 
ourselves, but of our children and our children's children to the end 
of time. 



, 1916 

Now when the sinking Sun reeketh with blood, 
And the gore-gushing vapours rent by him 
Rend him and bury him : now the World is dim 
As when great thunders gather for the flood, 
And in the darkness men die where they stood, 
And dying slay, or scattered limb from limb 
Cease in a flash where mad-eyed cherubim 
Of Death destroy them in the night and mud : 
When landmarks vanish murder is become 
A glory cowardice, conscience and to lie, 
A law to govern, but to serve a time : 
We dying, lifting bloodied eyes and dumb, 
Behold the silver star serene on high, 
That is thy spirit there, O Master Mind sublime. 


March 22, 1916. 

W. H. DAVIES 105 


THINKING of my caged birds indoors, 
My books, whose music serves my will ; 

Which, when I bid them sing, will sing, 
And when I sing myself are still ; 

And that my scent is drops of ink, 
Which, were my song as great as I, 

Would sweeten man till he was dust, 
And make the world one Araby ; 

Thinking how my hot passions make 
Strong floods of shallows that run cold 

Oh how I burn to make my dreams 

Lighten and thunder through the world ! 





IT is commonly acknowledged that the two literary influences that 
have had the most to do with the development of the English language 
are Shakespeare and the Bible. Which of these influences has been the 
more powerful it would not be easy to determine. But even if it be true 
that the foremost place in this respect must be given to the Bible, this 
does not imply that the contribution of the whole body of the translators 
to the formation of the language has surpassed or equalled in amount or 
importance that of the one poet. The English language does indeed 
owe many felicitous innovations to the genius of these men above all, 
to the sagaciously directed industry of Tindale and the poetic instinct 
of Coverdale ; yet the addition which the Bible has made to the 
resources of the language is only in very small part to be ascribed 
to them. Even if the translators had possessed no qualifications beyond 
a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, and the most ordinary degree of 
skill in the use of their own language, their work would have none the 
less abounded in transplanted Oriental idioms and metaphors ; and 
these would still have found their way, enriched in meaning by their 
sacred associations, into the common speech of Englishmen. The 
indebtedness of the English language to the Bible is indeed enormous ; 
but by far the heavier part of the debt is owed, not to the translators, 
but to the Hebrew and Greek originals. Nor must we though it is 
difficult to keep the two things apart confound the influence of the 
Bible on our language with its influence on our literature. It has been 
a priceless advantage to English literature that our writers have usually 
known their Bible well, and were able to trust their readers to recognize 
an allusion to it. But while this allusive use of the Bible means a great 
enrichment of the resources of effective literary expression at the dis 
posal of English writers, it is in the main the literature and not the 
language that has been the gainer ; except in so far as expressions that 
were originally allusive have gained a currency in which their source 
is no longer constantly recognized. 


All this has to be borne in mind if we are to estimate correctly the 
share of Shakespeare in the making of the English language, as compared 
with that of the translators of the Bible. We must remember that what 
he gave to his native tongue he gave of his own. Setting aside, as we 
ought in this connexion, the multitude of Shakespearian allusions in 
daily proverbial use which owe all their effect to the suggestion of the 
context, there are not a few of the poet's turns of phrase that may fairly 
be said to have become idioms of the language, being continually used 
without even a thought that they must have had some definite literary 
origin. Even when we are familiar with the passages of the plays in 
which they occur, it often suddenly strikes us that we have overlooked 
some peculiar appropriateness in their place, which proves that they 
were there used for the first time. Such are 'a tower of strength 1 ', 
c coign of vantage ', * household words ', ' in my heart's core ', * the head 
and front ', ' yeoman service ', * curled darlings ', * to out-Herod Herod ', 
* metal more attractive ', * a palpable hit ', * to the manner born ', * pomp 
and circumstance ', ' made of sterner stuff ', * the melting mood '. Many 
peculiar shades of meaning of ordinary words, which would otherwise 
be hard to account for, have been traced to reminiscences, not always 
accurate, of passages of Shakespeare in which the use of the word, if 
not quite normal, is at least well within the limits of poetic licence. 
In Shakespeare's hands the language is strangely ductile ; he continually 
uses words in novel extended senses which, when defined with the 
pedantic rigour inevitable in a dictionary, seem strained or faulty, but 
which one feels to need no justification when they are read in their con 
text. Some of his metaphorical uses, such as the application of the word 
canopy to the sky, have so taken root in the language that it is not easy 
to realize how audacious they must have seemed to the first readers. 

It is needless to dwell on Shakespeare's well-known prodigality 
and felicity in the invention of compound words. What has not been 
so commonly observed is his fertility in the formation of new words by 
means of suffixes and prefixes, and by the conversion of verbs into nouns 

1 Shakespeare's sentence, 'The king's name is a tower of strength ' (Rich. Ill, V. iii. 12), 
looks like a reminiscence of Proverbs xviii. 10, which if literally translated from the Hebrew 
would read, ' The name of the Lord is a tower of strength '. The curious thing is that no 
English translation has the literal rendering in this passage. The Douay version has it in 
Psalm lx[i]. 3, following the turris fortitudinis of the Vulgate; but the Douay Bible is 
much later than Shakespeare's use of the phrase. One is tempted to imagine that 
Shakespeare must somewhere have seen a literal translation of the passage in Proverbs^ 
and have been struck with the felicity of the expression. The proverbial currency of the 
phrase certainly seems to be due to Shakespeare, not to the Bible. 


or of nouns into verbs. It is true that many of these formations failed to 
be adopted by others, or have become obsolete ; but many still survive. 
So far as the evidence goes, he may have been the first user of the words 
changeful, gloomy, courtship. The list of words now familiar in literary 
use for which he is the earliest known authority would be of considerable 
length, and would for most people contain some startling surprises. One 
might expect to find in it such words as cerements, illume, but certainly 
not denote, depositary, impartial, investment. It can hardly be supposed 
that Shakespeare was the first writer to employ these words ; but the 
fact that no earlier examples can be quoted does show his eagerness to 
avail himself of any useful innovations in vocabulary. The same point 
may be illustrated by the large number of words for which the first 
known instance is only a few years older than the date of their occurrence 
in his works. His linguistic usage, one might say, always looks forward 
rather than backward. For archaism as such he had, to all appearance, 
no liking. Hardly anywhere in his writings (the * Gower ' prologues in 
Pericles are probably not his) is there ground for suspecting any intention 
to revive obsolete words or forms. He seems to have been similarly 
uninterested in English rustic dialect, which is rather surprising when 
we consider the evident relish with which he reproduces the comicalities 
of the speech of Welshmen. Although it had long been an established 
custom on the stage that countrymen should be represented as speaking 
what was supposed to be their native dialect, Shakespeare puts this 
conventional jargon only into the mouth of the disguised noble ; the 
actual rustics in the plays speak ordinary English. 

Popular manuals of English literature usually contain some state 
ment as to the number of words composing the vocabulary of Shake 
speare's plays and poems. The estimates vary between fifteen thousand 
and twenty-four thousand words. I have never met with any account 
of the methods by which any of these conflicting results have been 
arrived at, nor do I know who is responsible for any of them. The 
question of the numerical compass of the poet's vocabulary cannot from 
any point of view be said to be of great importance, but as a matter of 
curiosity there are probably many who would be glad to see it authori 
tatively settled. It is certainly quite capable of being settled ; no very 
extravagant expenditure of time would be required to count accurately 
the words registered in Bartlett's Concordance to Shakespeare. It is true 
that the task would demand some degree of trained skill and constant 
watchfulness, as Mr. Bartlett's method of arrangement is about as 
inconvenient as possible for the purpose of such an enumeration. 


There would, besides, often be no little difficulty in deciding what 
ought to be considered as a * word '. The verbal nouns in -ing, for 
instance, and the participial adjectives, could hardly be brought under 
a fixed rule. Some of these formations have an unmistakable claim 
to a separate place in the list, while others it would be absurd to count 
as distinct from their verbs ; but with regard to very many of them 
there would be room for doubt. A similar difficulty would arise in the 
treatment of the compound words of the poet's own invention. Still, 
if the counting were intelligently done, the margin of uncertainty in 
the result might, after all, not be very great. Probably sooner or later 
somebody will be found willing to take the trouble to make an exhaustive 
enumeration of Shakespeare's words. In the meantime, it may be 
pointed out that Onions 's Shakespeare Glossary contains about ten 
thousand words ; and as that work deals only with such words as call 
for some kind of comment, it seems reasonable to infer that the complete 
vocabulary would extend to double that number. There appears to be 
no reason to doubt the correctness of the common belief that the English 
poet who surpasses all others in the skilful use of words also ranks first 
in the number of the words that he has pressed into his service. 




SHAKESPEARE excelled all predecessors, contemporaries, or succes 
sors in his role of inventor of language. A magical faculty of expression 
was habitual to him, whereby word and thought fitted one another to 
perfection. The imaginative splendour of his diction, and its stirring 
harmonies, are commonly as noticeable as the impressiveness of the ideas. 
Yet often we are magnetized by the luminous simplicity of the phrase, 
by the absence of ornament, by the presence of a graphic directness and 
force which draw from all readers or hearers an instinctive recognition. 
They realize that the thought or feeling could be rightly expressed in no 
other way, although they are conscious at the same time that it is a way 
that is beyond their power to reach unaided. It is because Shakespeare 
has said superlatively well what so many think and feel, but cannot say 
with his apposite vigour, that so many of his simpler phrases have 
become household words, the idioms of our daily speech. Indeed, there 
is some value in the comparison which has been drawn between the 
English language to-day and a modern city of Italy, into the walls of 
whose palaces and into the pavements of whose streets have been worked 
fragments of the marble grandeur of the old Roman Empire. The 
tessellated fragments of many-coloured stone suggest the opalescent 
relics of Shakespearian language mortised into our common speech. 


Of Shakespeare's boldness in inventing new sonorous terms of 
foreign derivation, many instances could be given, but none more 
impressive than that familiar passage in Macbeth, when Macbeth, in his 
agony at the sight of Duncan's blood on his hand, cries out : 

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood 
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather 
The multitudinous seas incarnadine, 
Making the green one red. 


No one before had thought of such expressions as the epithet 
multitudinous or the verb incarnadine. Incarnadine of course means 
to colour with red dye ; it is not perhaps a word that circumstances often 
require, and it did not find general admission to the language. But its 
companion multitudinous served a wider purpose, and is with us all still. 


Shakespeare's gifts to our daily speech may be classified in three 
divisions : (i) sentences of his devising which now enjoy proverbial 
currency, (2) brief phrases of two or three words, and finally (3) com 
mon single words, including epithets compounded of more words than 
one. All the examples which I cite are undisputed coinage of the 
dramatist's brain and pen. 

There are several speeches in great scenes, of which wellnigh 
every syllable has, in one or other of these three shapes, been absorbed 
by our daily utterance. Let me quote one such passage : Othello's 
last speech. Who is not familiar with wellnigh every sentence in 
a hundred connexions which involve issues of current life altogether 
detached from the original setting ? 

I have done the state some service, 
And they know it. No more of that . . . 
Speak of me as I am ; nothing extenuate, 
Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak 
Of one who loved not wisely but too well. 

Sentences of Shakespeare's which have passed into proverbs 
include many such as these : 

' The better part of valour is discretion.' 

* Brevity is the soul of wit.' 

* Assume a virtue if you have it not.' 

' The course of true love never did run smooth.' 

' Every why hath a wherefore.' 

1 Though this be madness, there is method in it.' 

1 Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all.' 

Perhaps the isolated phrases which our speech owes to Shakespeare 
bring home to us most emphatically the figurative picturesqueness with 
which he has endowed our lips in the casual business of life. Here are 
a few : 

* In my mind's eye.' 

* More in sorrow than in anger.' 


' The primrose path.' 
4 A thing of shreds and patches.' 
The milk of human kindness.' 

* A ministering angel.' 

* A towering passion.' 

* A man more sinned against than sinning.' 

* Every inch a king.' 

* A divided duty.' 

* A foregone conclusion.' 

* Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war.' 

* Give us a taste of your quality ' and ' Pluck the heart out of my 
mystery ' are two of many sentences of which the main words are woven 
into the universal verbal web. 

It is worthy of remark that all these arresting phrases which mingle 
with our daily breath come from Shakespeare's tragedies ; from Hamlet, 
Lear, Othello, or Macbeth. The public intelligence has thus instinc 
tively recognized where Shakespeare's genius soared to its highest 

All such phrases illustrate Shakespeare's peculiar power of infusing 
into words which hitherto only bore a literal sense, a new figurative 
significance which they have since retained. When the dramatist 
wrote ' cold comfort ', or * hollow friendship ', he gave proof of this 
marvellous power of turning physical conceptions to imaginative or 
poetic account. 

Single words which we owe to Shakespeare's verbal ingenuity 
are equally memorable. He had no narrow prejudices against foreign 
terms which served his purpose. At times he did not trouble to angli 
cize a foreign formation. He left it to the future to complete the 
naturalizing process. Such seems to be the history of the words bandit, 
barricade, renegade, and hurricane. These words Shakespeare intro 
duced into the language in the foreign forms of bandetto, barricado, 
renegado, hurricano. Some of his verbal gifts to us which are framed 
on onomatopoeic principles perpetuate, it would seem, sudden flashes 
of verbal inspiration. Such seem to be dwindle, hurry, bump, gibber, 
whiz. More imposing inventions, which involve greater intellectual 
effort, are moral (of a fable), fallacy, libertine, and any number of 
illuminating epithets ; for example, ominous, jovial, inauspicious. 



One mode of forming new epithets was an invention of Shake 
speare's contemporaries and no device of his own peculiar coinage. 
But Shakespeare adopted and developed it with such fertility that he 
may well claim the honour of having taught to future ages its picturesque 
efficacy. I refer to his constant employment of the double epithet, 
whereby he clad ideas of some complexity in an original verbal garb, 
uniting charm with clarity. Homer knew the practice, but after his 
time it disappeared from civilized speech ; not to be revived till experi 
ment was made again with it by the French poets of the sixteenth 
century. Sir Philip Sidney, first of Englishmen to employ the device, 
deliberately borrowed it from France, and Edmund Spenser made trial 
of it under Sidney's influence. But Shakespeare was the English poet 
to discover the full potentialities of such word-formation, and many 
of his composite inventions rank with our most important and most 
impressive verbal debts to him. None before Shakespeare employed 
such epithets as snow-white, milk-white, tear-stained, cold-blooded, 
crest-fallen, down-trodden, low-spirited, heart-burning, ill-favoured, 
hollow-eyed, hot-blooded, heart-whole, home-bred, well-proportioned, 

Like combinations enjoy less colloquial currency and rank with 
the more select idioms which flourish in the narrower circles of literary 
culture. Such are fancy-free, trumpet-tongued, cloud-capped, silver- 
sweet, honey-heavy, sleek-headed, mouth-honour, heaven-kissing. 

, Many less dignified methods of forming compound words were in 
vogue in Shakespeare's time, and there was no current kind of verbal 
experiment to which he did not lend a hand. To his inventiveness on 
the duplicating principle which made at the moment so strong a 
popular appeal, we owe off-hand colloquialisms like handy-dandy, 
helter-skelter, hugger-mugger, skimble-skamble. 

Shakespeare's contemporaries, not himself, can claim the parental 
honours in the cognate cases of higgledy-piggledy, and, I believe, 



So penetrating is the Shakespearian influence on our language, 
such a hold has his phraseology on the popular as well as on the culti 
vated ear, that much of his phraseology has been absorbed by our 
unwritten, our non-literary, talk of the street. 

* Cudgel thy brains.' 

* I know a trick worth two of that.* 

* Very like a whale.' 

* Too much of a good thing ' are among Shakespeare's contri 
butions to the vernacular which are often characterized as illiterate. 
The popular use of ' bounce ', in the sense of boastful falsehood, is one 
of Shakespeare's numerous verbal innovations, which are generally 
reckoned more forcible than polite. 

Thus I claim that Shakespeare ranks as national hero by virtue 
(among other achievements) of the vast expansion he effected in the 
scope of our national diction. Educated and uneducated alike have 
benefited by his genius for graphic neologisms. Territorial expansion 
scarcely fosters a nation's intellectual vigour more signally than a widen 
ing of its command of expressive speech, which ennobles the lips, and 
both clarifies and broadens thought. 



IF many a daring spirit must discover 
The chartless world, why should they glory lack ? 
Because athwart the skyline they sank over, 
Few, few, the shipmen be that have come back. 

Yet one, wrecked oft, hath by a giddy cord 

The rugged head of Destiny regained, 

Who from the maelstrom's lap hath swum aboard 

Who from the polar sleep himself unchain'd. 

And he, acquainted well with every tone 
Of madness whining in his shroudage slender, 
From storm and mutiny emerged alone, 
Self-righted from the dreadful self-surrender : 

Rich from the isles where sojourn long is death, 
Won back to cool Thames and Elizabeth, 
Sea- weary, yes, but human still, and whole 
A circumnavigator of the soul. 


I 2 




CRIMSON was the twilight, under that crab-tree 
Where old tales tell us all a midsummer's night, 
A mad young poacher, drunk with mead of elfin-land, 
Lodged with the fern-owl, and looked at the stars. 

There, from the dusk, where the dream of Piers Plowman 
Darkens on the sunrise, to this dusk of our own, 
I read, in a history, the record of our world. 

The hawk-moth, the currant-moth, the red-striped tiger-moth 
Shimmered all around me, so white shone those pages ; 
And, in among the blue boughs, the bats flew low. 

I slumbered, the history slipped from my hand, 
Then I saw a dead man, dreadful in the moon-dawn, 
The ghost of the Master, bowed upon that book. 

He muttered as he searched it, What vast convulsion 
Mocks my sexton's curse now, shakes our English clay ? 
Whereupon I told him, and asked him in turn 
Whether he espied any light in those pages 
Which painted an epoch later than his own. 

I am a shadow, he said, and I see none. 
I am a shadow, he said, and I see none. 


Then, O then he murmured to himself (while the moon hung 
Crimson as a lanthorn of Cathay in that crab-tree), 
Laughing at his work and the world, as I thought, 
Yet with some bitterness, yet with some beauty 
Mocking his own music, these wraiths of his rhymes ; 

God, when I turn the leaves of that dark book 

Wherein our wisest teach us to recall 
Those glorious flags which in old tempests shook 

And those proud thrones which held my youth in thrall ; 

When I see clear what seemed to childish eyes 

The glorious colouring of each pictured age ; 
And for their dominant tints now recognize 

How thumbed with innocent blood is every page ; 

O, then I know this world is fast asleep 

Bound in Time's womb, till some far morning break ; 
And, though light grows upon the dreadful deep, 

We are dungeoned in thick night. We are not awake. 

The world 's unborn, for all our hopes and schemes ; 
And all its myriads only move in dreams. 


// was a crimson twilight, under that crab-tree. 
Moths beat about me, and bats flew low. 
I read, in a history, the record of our world. 

Ij there be light, said the Master, 
/ am a shadow, and I see none . . . 

/ am a shadow, and I see none. 




DAME NATURE on a Holiday bethought her of a plan, 
To mix new elements and clay, and make a proper man. 

She knew the fine rare dust to seek in England's central shire, 
Brought dew from red Parnassus' peak on dawning cloud of fire : 
With fingers deft she did them knead in young Adonis' form, 
Of Saxon and of Norman breed, with British strain to warm. 

His ears were shells from mystic beach, which taught him what to hear ; 
She kept the lightning for his speech, to make foul airs grow clear ; 
She for his eyes found sunbeams rare, to see by their own light ; 
And hid some stars amid his hair, to guide his steps aright. 

She took the West Wind from the main, for breath so soft and deep ; 
She made the North Wind sweep his brain, it keen and clear to keep ; 
She let the South Wind bathe his heart to make it warm and true ; 
She would not use the East Wind's art, so shrewd and snell it blew, 
But called a breeze down from the sky to purify his soul, 
And left it to be guarded by a conscience firm and whole. 

(St. George had come to earth that year the Dragon's brood to fight; 1 
He struck upon his shield his spear, and waked the babe to light.) 

She, like a kind godmother, cared to make his training sound ; 
Found him a home where well he fared with relatives around ; 
Gave him a mother wise and brave, and a right merry sire, 
A learned pedagogue she gave, and then his Heart's Desire. 

1 It was a Plague year. 



Dame Fortune her misfortunes rained as jealous for her play, 
And she his Having all distrained, and took his means away, 
With iron chains she fettered him, loaded with heavy weight, 
Plunged in strange tides to sink or swim, and left him to his fate. 

He did not sink, but bravely fought 'gainst storm and wind and tide ; 
Impediments ashore he brought, and poverty defied. 
When on the stony shore he stood he bore down Fortune's taint, 
And fought again the Dragon's brood, like to his patron saint. 

Dame Nature smiled again, content, her gifts so well bestowed, 
And she her own White Magic lent, to lighten still his load. 
He learned the speech of beast and bird, men, women, angels, stars ; 
The love-lore of the past he heard, and fought in ancient wars. 
She gave him power to make them live, to teach men's eyes to see, 
And beauty, goodness, truth, to give in Music's poesy. 

Men recognized Dame Nature's cheer, seen in her darling's power ; 
They envied, blamed, praised, loved, and clear his stars shone on his hour. 
Creator of full many a c part ', and maker of his stage, 
He thus became the soul and heart, th' expresser of his age. 

And what three hundred years ago was made, doth still endure, 
Having a life within to glow and prove his genius sure. 
If then he was so greatly graced, now his perennial pow'r 
Hath on his brow new glory placed, * the Present ' still his Hour. 
Nothing so great hath risen between, to dwarf him to our eyes : 
The grandest bard our race hath seen, so let our paeans rise, 
And * Hail to William Shakespeare ! ' cry, our comfort, our delight, 
* Our treasury, our armoury, our champion, and our knight ! ' 




THERE are certain pieces of evidence bearing on the personal 
character of Shakespeare which I observe that my old friend Sir Sidney 
Lee, in the new edition of his monumental biography, does not put to 
the poet's account. A biographer who has to hold the scales between 
popular hero-worship and partisan detraction in the interest of some 
eccentric hypothesis, may be excused if he assume the port of Rhada- 
manthus. But the rank and file of us need not put so much constraint 
on our instincts. If the evidence in question is good enough, if it fits 
in with the mental picture we have formed of the dramatist from his 
plays, and is not inconsistent with contemporary testimony, we shall 
incline to accept it, giving the great man the benefit of any doubt. 

There are two passages which I have chiefly in mind : of one I can 
speak quite shortly ; the other will require a closer investigation. The 
first is the newly discovered scrap of information about Shakespeare's 
social habits which Aubrey apparently derived from the actor William 
Beeston, whose father was with Shakespeare in the Lord Chamberlain's 
company. An account of the page of rough notes on which this entry 
was found, together with a facsimile here reproduced, was contributed 
to The Collections of the Malone Society (i. 324) by Mr. E. K. Chambers. 
Mr. Madan, Bodley's Librarian, whom Sir Sidney Lee quotes as refer 
ring the entry to Fletcher, has since made a thorough investigation of 
the way in which this page of notes was put together, and has convinced 
himself that the entry refers to Shakespeare. As Sir George Warner 
also agrees, it is not necessary to argue this point further. It must also, 
I think, be allowed that Mr. Chambers gives the only possible tran 
scription of the passage : 

the more to be admired q. [i.e. qtiod, because] he was not a company keeper, | lived 
in Shoreditch, would not be debauched, and if invited to | writ : he was in paine. 

Sir Sidney Lee reads * if invited to write, he was in paine ' ; but the 
word is unmistakably * writ ' followed by a colon, and the omission of 
the stop after * invited to ' at the end of the line is paralleled by other 

Bodleian Aubrey MS. 8, fol. 45 V 


examples on the same page. The word * debauched ' must be under 
stood in its general Elizabethan use of excess in eating or drinking, 
especially the latter ; as when Trinculo calls Caliban * a deboshed fish ' 
because he had * drowned his tongue in sack '. 

Taking it then as certain that Aubrey's rough note refers to Shake 
speare, and that it testifies to his disinclination to drinking parties, the 
interesting question arises how it is to be reconciled with the other note 
about his social habits which we also owe to Aubrey : * He was very 
good company, and of a very ready and pleasant smooth wit.' This 
tradition we instinctively accept ; and support it by the passage in 
Fuller's Worthies, which must be based on tradition also, about the 
* wit-combats ' between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson ; which are 
assumed, not unreasonably, to have taken place at the Mermaid. Shake 
speare, then, was ' very good company ' and yet ' not a company- 
keeper '. It may have been the superficial inconsistency between the 
two traditions which led Aubrey not to add the latter note to the former 
in his * brief life ' of Shakespeare ; or of course the omission may have 
been due to mere oversight. However this was, the inconsistency is 
explained if we remember that the newly discovered tradition comes 
from an actor. There must have been merry-makings of actors and 
their patrons, where the wine would be more than the wit ; and we may 
judge that it was from such parties as these that Shakespeare was in 
the habit of excusing himself on the ground of indisposition. We 
certainly get an impression from certain passages in the plays that their 
writer felt a disgust for drunkenness : at least we may reasonably 
doubt, if Ben Jonson had written Hamlet and had cast about for a topic of 
conversation on the battlements of Elsinore while waiting for the ghost, 
whether he would have stopped the gap with a temperance lecture. 

A second point in which I would claim for Shakespeare the benefit 
of the doubt is as to the part played by him in the attempted enclosure 
of the common fields of Welcombe in 1614. Our information comes 
from a rough diary kept by Shakespeare's cousin Thomas Greene, who 
was at the time Town Clerk of Stratford. This diary was reproduced 
in facsimile with a transcript in 1885, but as only fifty copies were 
printed it is but little known. The story of the proposed enclosure 
is told at greater or less length, and, I must add, with more or less in 
accuracy, by the various biographers ; with most detail by Mrs. Stopes 
in Shakespeare's Environment^ pp. 81-91, 336-42. It would seem that 
two young gentlemen of the house of Combe, nephews of Shakespeare's 
friend, John Combe, made up their minds to enclose part of the common 


fields, and were supported in their scheme by a very influential person, 
Mr. Mannering, steward of the Lord Chancellor, who was officially 
lord of the royal manor of Stratford. A very general motive for en 
closure in those days was better farming, because, as the land in these 
common fields was owned in strips of an acre, or half an acre, a good 
farmer might find himself next to a very bad one, and his land suffer 
in consequence. That the system has been discarded in England is 
some proof that it had great practical disadvantages. We may con 
jecture that, as the Chancellor was said to approve the scheme, 1 it was not 
without its recommendations ; and Greene, in his diary, notes a saying 
of Mr. Mannering that ' if he might not do it well, he cared not for 
enclosing, and cared not how little he did meddle therein '. A more 
particular motive for enclosure was generally the wish for some reason 
to lay down the arable land in pasture. We are told that the increase 
of arable through the reclamation of waste land in the north of Warwick 
shire had led to a demand for more pasture in the south ; 2 and it was 
the declared intention of the Combes to convert some 200 acres into 
pasture. Such enclosures were always unpopular, as they reduced the 
demand for labour. Seven years before, there had been disturbances 
at Hill Morton in the east of the county, where 3,000 persons assembled, 
and systematically laid open the enclosed lands. In the present case, 
the proposal to enclose was resisted by the Town Council of Stratford, 
on the special ground that the tithes upon the * corn and grain * had 
been assigned by Edward VI, in their charter of incorporation, for the 
maintenance of the vicar, the town bridge, grammar school, and alms- 
houses ; and that the recent fire had so impoverished the town that 
they could not consent to such a diminution of the tithes as must accom 
pany the proposed enclosure. There seems no doubt that the Combes 
at first intended to buy out the commoners and ignore the wishes of 
the Corporation. Their agent Replingham told Thomas Greene that 
* he cared not for their consents '. But when the opposition grew, and 
the Corporation presented a petition both to the Privy Council in London 
and to the Chief Justice (who was the great lawyer Coke) at the local 
Assizes, William Combe sent them a letter 3 making various alternative 

1 Mr. Elton notes that Lord Chancellor Ellesmere in this very year had decreed enclo 
sures to be for the public advantage (William Shakespeare, his family and friends, p. 148). 

2 Common Land and Inclosure, by E. C. K. Conner, p. 147. 

3 The letter, dated 24 June, 1616, is printed in the Appendix to Ingleby's edition 
of Greene's Diary, and it is surprising that none of the biographers think it worth notice. 
One of Combe's proposals was to give the Corporation the amount of the tithe * in yearly 
rent to be paid out of any land I have '. 


offers of compensation for the tithe they would lose on the land enclosed ; 
proposals which, on paper, certainly appear equitable ; but the town, 
we must suppose for sufficient reason, declined them all. 

The only question that matters to us to-day is the view Shakespeare 
took of the transaction. His own holding of about 120 acres, not being 
in the Welcombe field, was not affected by the proposal. But he was 
one of a syndicate which had bought a lease of the tithes ; and the throw 
ing of the land out of tillage would mean a serious loss ; for his income 
from the tithes on the land converted to pasture would cease, unless an 
arrangement were made for tithing the stock. Meanwhile the bargain 
with the Corporation would have to be kept, and there were twenty- 
two years of the lease still to run. Accordingly the first thing we 
hear is that Shakespeare entered into an agreement with the Combes* 
agent Replingham to assure him, and also his cousin Thomas Greene, 
against loss * thro* the decreasing of the yearly value of the tithes 
by reason of the decay of tillage '. Whether the other members of 
the syndicate made similar agreements, we do not know : Greene, 
from whom all our information comes, is not concerned with them. 
Can we see then what was Shakespeare's attitude to the proposed 
enclosure ? Both Halliwell- Phillips and Sir Sidney Lee are of opinion 
that he, at least tacitly, supported the Combes. In such a course there 
would have been nothing unworthy if he knew that they proposed to 
make good to the town the loss of the tithes when the lease fell in, as 
they would certainly have been compelled to do by the Privy Council ; 
but, since the Corporation definitely declared against the scheme, to 
support it would have been unpatriotic. The relevant passages from 
Greene's diary are the following : 

1 7 No : My Cosen Shakespeare commy ng yesterday to towne I went to see him howe 
he did, he told me that they assured him they meant to inclose noe further than to gospell 
bushe and so upp straight (leavying out part of the dyngles to the ffield) to the gate in 
Clopton hedge and take in Salisburyes peece : and that they mean in Aprill to servey the 
Land and then to gyve satisfaccion and not before and he and Mr. Hall say they think there 
will be nothying done at all. 

This conversation occurred in November 1614, when Greene was in 
London about the business of the Corporation's petition to the Privy 
Council. At this stage Shakespeare and his son-in-law Dr. Hall give 
it as their opinion that the Combes will drop their proposal in face of 
the opposition it has aroused. 

23 Dec. A Hall. Lettres wrytten one to Mr. Mannerying another to Mr. Shakspeare 
with almost all the companyes hands to eyther : I alsoe wrytte of myself to my Cosen 
Shakspeare the coppyes of all our oathes [?] made then, alsoe a not(e) of the Inconvenyences 
V old g(row) by the Inclosure. 


The letter to Mannering alone has been preserved. It sets forth the 
' good and godly uses and intents ' to which the tithes were allotted in 
the charter of incorporation, and describes in pathetic terms the destitu 
tion which had fallen through recent fires on the town, * where lyve above 
seaven hundred poore which receave Almes, whose curses and clamours 
Wilbee day lie poured out to god against the interp risers of such a thinge '. 
Whether either Mannering or Shakespeare replied, or, if they did, to 
what effect, Greene does not tell us ; but we have no right to presume 

Sept. [1615] W. Shakespeares tellying J. Greene that I was not able to beare the 
encloseinge of Welcombe. 

This is the darkest of all the dark sentences in Greene's hastily 
scribbled diary, as it is the most interesting. J. Greene was a brother. 
It seems unnecessary that Shakespeare should have told J. Greene 
a fact about his brother which, if it were a fact, he must have known 
better than ' cosen Shakespeare ', and doubly unnecessary that Thomas 
Greene should have made a note of it. But the fact is highly question 
able. All through the diary there are scattered evidences that, while 
Greene acted with perfect loyalty to his Council, he was not himself averse 
to the project of enclosure. On January 9, 1615, there is the report of 
a long conversation between Greene and somebody whose name he has 
forgotten to give, probably Combe himself, in which Greene is promised 
ten pounds to buy a gelding, if he would propound a peace ; the course 
suggested being a friendly suit which Greene was to urge Sir Henry 
Raynsford to propose. Greene demurred on the ground that Sir Henry 
would say that the suggestion came from him, and such a motion would 
be taken as * too favourable ' to the scheme of enclosure, * I knowing 
their fixed resolutions '. Clearly, therefore, Greene had no such * fixed 
resolutions ' himself. He continues : ' I told him yt was known that 
he was here, and that I thought I did nothing but both sydes heard of 
yt ; and therefore I caryed myself as free from all offence as I could ; I 
told him I would do yt before Wednesday night to some of the principall 
of them ; ' and he notes in the margin : * I did yt the same night at 
their commyng downe to me anon after, viz. Mr. Bayly, Mr. Baker, 
Mr. Walford, Mr. Chandler/ As Mr. Bayly is the Bailiff, there was nothing 
underhand in Greene's conduct, but it is impossible to represent 
the most honourable of go-betweens as a strong anti-enclosure man. 
Sir Sidney Lee thinks that * Shakespeare's new statement amounted to 
nothing more than a reassertion of the continued hostility of Thomas 


Greene to William Combe's nefarious purpose '. I should reply first 
that the purpose was in no way * nefarious ', for the * friendly suit ' 
referred to above implied compensation to be fixed by the court ; and 
secondly that Greene's ' hostility ' is contradicted by his own very 
clear evidence. He adds : * Those who wish to regard Shakespeare as 
a champion of popular rights have endeavoured to interpret the " I " in 
" I was not able " as " he ", but palaeographers only recognize the 
reading " I ".' But here it must be pointed out that the learned judge 
has not got all the facts on his notes. The palaeographer who edited 
the facsimile of Greene's diary, the late Dr. C. M. Ingleby, pointed out 
in his preface that Greene had a queer habit of writing * I ' when he 
meant * he ' ; and * he ' when he meant * I ' ; sometimes correcting 
his blunder, and sometimes not. He quotes an uncorrected example 
from the first page of the diary : * I willed him to learn what / could, 
and I told him soe would I.' Rhadamanthus himself would be forced 
to admit that the second * I ' here is a mistake for * he '. It must also 
be admitted in the other case, unless we prefer to impute to Shakespeare 
a want of insight into his cousin's lawyer-like habit of mind, and to 
Greene himself a puerile satisfaction in chronicling such a misjudgement. 
If Shakespeare backed the Combes, we should have to charge him 
with unneighbourliness. But that is precisely the charge which it is so 
hard to credit. Dr. Wallace's discovery of his good-natured interest 
in the affairs of the son-in-law of the Huguenot tire-maker with whom 
he lodged in 1604, points in the opposite direction ; and so does an 
incident to which Mrs. Stopes first called attention, which is chronicled 
in the very next entry in Greene's diary to that under discussion. 

5 Sept. his sendyng James for the executours of Mr. Barber to agre as ys sayd with them 
for Mr. Barbers interest. 

Mrs. Stopes discovered that this Barber had been harried, possibly to 
death, by the Combes * about a debt he stood surety for Mris Quyney '. 
Sir Sidney Lee here comments : ' Shakespeare would seem to have 
been benevolently desirous of relieving Barber's estate from the pressure 
which Combe was placing upon it.' I think then we have good reason 
to plead for the benefit of the doubt in the matter of the enclosure. 




HAMLET and King Lear have a peculiar quality of unworldliness 
not to be found in other plays of Shakespeare. This unworldliness is 
expressed not only in words, though they express it often enough, but 
in the very conduct of the play. It shows itself even in a curious in 
difference to dramatic success, an indifference that is certainly not mere 
failure. In both plays Shakespeare is writing at the height of his powers, 
and writing, as usual, instinctively for the stage. But, except at the 
opening of each play, he is beyond aiming at dramatic effect. Rather 
he uses the dramatic form, with a skill that has become unconscious, 
to reveal states of the soul ; and, when he has attained to the revelation 
of these, he seems to forget the practical business of the drama. In both 
plays all his dramatic contrivance is used to reach a certain situation as 
swiftly as possible ; but when it is reached the rest of the play consists 
of variations upon it, in which the soul of Hamlet or Lear is laid bare. 
In most plays we watch to see what will happen next, but at the height 
of Hamlet and King Lear this anxiety about the course of events ceases ; 
the dramatic action seems to fade away and the material conflict to be 
stilled, so that we may see souls independent of time and place. Hamlet 
and Lear are terribly beset by circumstances ; but, when they are most 
beset, they escape into a solitude of their own minds where we are alone 
with them and overhear their innermost secrets. Then the dramatic 
action seems to have had no object except to lead them into this solitude, 
where speech becomes thought, and there are no longer any events 
except those of the soul. 

There is a point in King Lear where the theme of the play seems 
to be released from the material conflict and to rise suddenly into 
music. It is where Lear enters with Cordelia as a prisoner and cries : 

We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage. 

To himself he is alone with Cordelia, and he has learnt at last in the 


innocence of his madness to enter into a heaven of intimacy with her, 
where he can laugh at the world like a blessed spirit 


At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues 
Talk of court news ; and we'll talk with them too, 
Who loses and who wins ; who 's in, who 's out ; 
And take upon 's the mystery of things, 
As if we were God's spies : and we'll wear out 
In a wall'd prison, packs and sets of great ones 
That ebb and flow by the moon. 

That phrase * Take upon 's the mystery of things ' expresses exactly 
what seems to happen to Lear and Hamlet when they pass into this 
sudden peace at the height of the storm ; and Hamlet himself speaks 
not only to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or of one particular incident, 
but to all worldly wisdom, when he says : * You would play upon me ; 
you would seem to know my stops ; you would pluck out the heart of 
my mystery.' These moments of the soul are not, cannot be, explained 
even by the poet himself. This unworldliness, unearthliness even, 
attained to through the disaster of an earthly conflict, is something 
beyond all analysis, something that we can only parallel in the works 
of Dostoevsky, where there is the same use of the story to reveal states 
of the soul, the same indifference to dramatic effect and even to the 
difficulties of the reader. Hamlet is puzzling, like Dostoevsky's people, 
because Shakespeare draws his very soul and not his motives. He is 
the most vivid character in all drama, yet we know his motives no more 
than we know our own when we are deeply moved. What we do know 
is the peculiar quality of his mind, and above all that passionate un 
worldliness which makes him so lonely at the court of Denmark that he 
cannot find a companion even in the man or the woman that he loves. 
He must be always misunderstood there, as he has been misunderstood 
ever since ; and this weighs on his mind even when he is dying. His 
tragedy is really the tragedy of loneliness, and his seeming madness 
is the exasperation of loneliness, which always becomes most intense 
when he is with worldly people and stung by some proof of their mis 
understanding. We may be sure that in it Shakespeare expressed the 
exasperation of his own loneliness, which he must have felt as soon as 
success lost its freshness for him. He could not content himself, even, 
with the success of the artist, of brilliant plays like Henry V or As You 
Like It. So he turned from the world with a religious longing for escape, 
which, being a poet, he could find only in his art and, imaginatively, in 


the purged souls of Lear and Cordelia and Hamlet, which are all his own 
soul projected imaginatively into the purging of tragedy. These two 
plays tell us that he could not consent to a private happiness of this 
world, that he took upon himself the mystery of things and the suffering 
of infinite possibilities. They tell us, whatever his outward life may 
have been, of the far adventures of his soul, through which he reached 
these furthest heights of poetry. 




As far as I can judge, no greater service can be rendered to Shake 
speare, and therefore also to literature, than by some vindication of the 
character of our great poet. In a recent book (Shakespeare: the 
Man and his Work) I first endeavoured to disprove the theories of those 
writers who represent him as long dominated by a degrading passion 
for a degraded woman the * Dark Lady ' of the Sonnets. My critics 
kindly gave it as their opinion that I had proved my case which was 
this : * Whether as the lady of the intrigue, or as mere mistress, the 
woman has an impossible story, utterly untrustworthy as material for 

Secondly, inasmuch as religion and ethics are often a twofold 
morality of sentiment and practice, I next endeavoured to ascertain 
Shakespeare's religious opinions, with the aid chiefly of his Sonnets. 
I found that (if I may again quote from Shakespeare : the Man and his 
Work) ' however much the phrase may startle our more enlightened 
atheism, he was " a God-fearing Christian ' '. In this endeavour also 
my critics accounted me successful. On the present occasion I trust 
to reinforce my former arguments by a brief examination of the Poems 
of Shakespeare. 

If nothing had been known about Spenser except that he was the 
author of the Faerie Queene (and the same might be said of Milton and 
his Comus), we should still have been able to form a reliable estimate 
of his ethics and his religious opinions. Now, as it seems to me, the 
two poems Venus and Adonis and the Rape of Lucrece will enable any 
unbiased reader to form a similar estimate with regard to Shakespeare ; 
in other words, that he was, like Spenser, * a God-fearing Christian '. 
This I shall at least endeavour to demonstrate. 

All criticism is ultimately comparative ; there is no such thing as 
inductive criticism. We read these poems, and we say : * Marlowe 
among Elizabethans might emulate their beauty and poetic force, but 
the spirituality of their vision, the loftiness of their wisdom, he could 



not emulate ; under this head we must refer again to Spenser.* Then 
we note the description of Lucrece as a * graver labour ' ; this phrase 
would hardly have been employed by Marlowe, though it might by the 
author of the Foure Hymnes. But even with the corroboration of con 
temporary opinion we need not extort from the phrase any undue 
significance ; it implies at least that the Venus was a lighter theme, 
chosen in some measure to please a patron, and that the later poem, 
if not a corrective, would express the poet's weightier convictions. And 
of course the poems are in some respects counterparts the obverse 
and reverse of one poetic coin. 

Turning now to the Venus, we first examine its motives, all of 
which, we may note, are to be found in the Sonnets. There is the 
central theme * When a woman woos ' ; next, the two * patron ' 
themes of youth and beauty in man, and 

Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breedeth beauty; 
Thou wast begot; to get it is thy duty; 

and of the remaining reflections by far the most important are those that 
point to the contrast between love and lust. 

This is treated something after the manner of antitheta. First, we 
have the arts and arguments of Venus an ' idle over-handled theme ', 
the poet calls it 

1 Love is a spirit all compact of fire . . .' 

* Affection is a coal that must be cool'd . . .' 

' Make use of time ; let not advantage slip . . .' 

' What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss ? . . .' 

The seductive yet pernicious doctrine of ' natural ' love 

Love, free as air, at sight of human ties, 
Spreads his light wings, and, in a moment, flies 

is more or less deliberately supported by many of our present-day 
writers, some of them being of great repute amongst us ; but a greater 
than these was Shakespeare. Greater also than these was that other 
large-browed Elizabethan, and him I will quote first 

4 Being one, why should not a man be content with one ? ' 
'As soul and body are one, so man and wife.' 
'Wanton love corrupted! and debaseth it (mankind).' 

Now let us hear the kindred words of Shakespeare, who, as is most 
meet and intelligible, frequently produces or reproduces the wisdom 


of Francis Bacon, and as frequently refines it and adorns ; so here, in 
the reply of Adonis 

And again 

I hate not love, but your device in love, 
That lends embracements unto every stranger. 

Call it not love, for Love to heaven is fled, 
Since sweating Lust on earth usurp'd his name. 

There is more much more to the same purpose, but I must 
pass on to the other poem, the Lucrece. In this also by far the most 
important of the reflections insist upon the contrast between love and 
lust ; to quote under this head would be to repeat almost half the poem. 
Here again is no work of Marlowe ; to him it would be utterly impos 
sible ; it is the refined spirit of Spenser, or again (though Spenser was 
less fettered by dogma) of Milton. As far as I am aware, the most 
striking feature of the poem has not hitherto been recognized ; it is this : 
even as the palace of Lucrece is strewn by the author with Elizabethan 
rushes, so the pagan theme is saturated with Elizabethan Christianity. 
With this Christianity the poet is profoundly imbued, and fearlessly and 
naturally he expounds it. In fact, whatever of Christian doctrine or 
dogma is wanting in the Sonnets will be found here, and found in an 
extraordinary overplus. Even in regard to demonology, wherein the 
poet would naturally be on his strictest guard, the Roman Jove is out- 
rivalled by the Christian Jehovah. 

In this short essay, illustration of every point indeed, of any but 
a very few points is impossible. I will note here, however, that the 
' high almighty Jove ' (cf . Milton's ' all-judging Jove ') invoked by Lucrece 
is not easily identified with ' him who gave ' Tarquin his sword where 
with to * kill iniquity * ; and that when Tarquin falls to reflecting on 
the futility of praying to the * eternal power ' for success in such an 
enterprise, and adds, ' The powers to whom I pray abhor this fact/ one 
can hardly believe that the reference is to any of ' the gods that Romans 
bow before ' ; especially seeing that a line or two later the poet concludes 
with this fragment of Christian doctrine : 

The blackest sin is cleared with absolution. 

In all this we are at least reminded of Bacon's * taking Pluto for the 
Devil '. 

This, however, shall be a matter of opinion ; but I should like to 
quote from one of the less equivocal passages (and there are hundreds 



such), chiefly because it throws strong light on one of the most important 
of the Sonnets, namely, the cxLVith. The following is a part of it : 

Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced . . . 

And the soul speaks for herself, as follows : 

She says, her subjects with foul insurrection 
Have batter'd down her consecrated wall, 
And by their mortal fault brought in subjection 
Her immortality, and made her thrall 
To living death and pain perpetual . . .' 

Among the many points of comparison between the whole passage 
(11. 712-28) and the Sonnet, perhaps the most interesting is the poet's 
employment of both the scriptural doctrines in regard to our human 
body ; in the Sonnet it is the * vile body * that shall be * destroyed by 
worms ' ; for there the poet is speaking and with a conscientious 
modesty of himself ; but in the poem he gives us the other biblical 
doctrine (only adumbrated in the Sonnet) which speaks of the body as 
a * temple ', and * holy ', whether as the temple of the Deity or of the 
Holy Ghost or as the mansion of the divine-human spirit. The figure 
occurs again in Lucrece (1. 1173) : 

Her sacred temple spotted, spoil'd, corrupted; 

and indeed the whole passage (11. 1163-76) in which this line is found 
should be read by the side of the former. Notable, for example, among 
so much that is noteworthy, is the expression (of the soul) * the other 
made divine ' (1. 1164). 

Here, though incomplete, I must leave my textual investigation 
of the two poems, and turn to another important subject. 

It might be urged that these Christian reflections, although they 
occur in such a remarkable excess, arise out of the subject ; that they 
belong to art, and have no relation to practical life. But the fallacy may 
be met in a thousand ways. 'All beauty ', we reply, * is related to life, 
and therefore also to morality. Next, a true artist is a man, not a machine, 
and as a man his speech bewrayeth him ; whether he will or will not, 
you shall know him by his deeds, his emotions, his very thoughts ; aye, 
and that intimately. Nor do these reflections arise out of the subject ; 
on the contrary, they are foreign to it. You will not find them in the 
pages of Ovid ; you would not have found them, we repeat, in the pages 
of Marlowe. They are peculiar to Shakespeare, to Spenser, Sidney, 



Raleigh that is, to the spiritually-minded Elizabethan. Religious 
opinions, I may add, like political opinions, are an obsession that may 
even imperil the creations of the artist/ 

But for a moment I will abandon whatever isolated evidence may be 
afforded by these two poems, and bring in a wider argument. It is the 
main argument of the book referred to above Shakespeare : the Man 
and his Work namely this, that we must judge Shakespeare only by what 
is habitual, only by prevailing tendencies. If I were asked to mention 
the most persistent of the various elements of Shakespeare's moral 
philosophy, I should reply unhesitatingly, * this contrast between love 
and lust '. His doctrine may be thus stated : * Unlawful passion is a 
vice, a torture, and loathsome, and it goes by the name of lust ; whereas 
lawful passion is a virtue, a delight, and beautiful, and it goes by the 
name of love.* This doctrine is traceable throughout his writings. 
We have begun with his early poems ; if we pass on to the Sonnets, 
there also we have it in abundance, sometimes with a tinge of con 
vention and dejected admission, as in Sonnet cxxix, but far more 
frequently as the expression of an emotion almost startling in its sin 

I do betray 
My nobler part to my gross body's treason ; 

this repentant cry, moreover, is nobly supported by the stern and 
spiritual resolve of the cxLVith Sonnet above mentioned, which, likely 
enough, is an epilogue to the whole Sonnet series. 

Next we follow the doctrine through the long series of plays till we 
reach Measure for Measure. Here we are aware of an astonishing culmi 
nation of antitheta due to long pondering on the subject. We see these 
antitheta thrown, as it were, into the scales of a vast weighing-machine. 
Awestruck we watch the slow successive balancings, but the scale that 
falls at last, and falls heavily, is on the side of the angels. From this point 
onward we have no more of convention (and we never had much), no 
more of dejected doubt, no more even of antitheta ; henceforth all is 
the plain speaking of a plain conviction. 

Into the heaven-reflecting lake of The Tempest are poured the various 
streams of Shakespeare's noble and most spiritual philosophy. Therein 
are mingled the rarer action of virtue, the old piety that lived each day 
as if the last, the old simple faith in * Providence divine ', and the newer 
faith in a human brotherhood. There also are the education that en 
nobles, the civilization that works only by uplifting, and, as I venture 
to believe, the finer knowledge that bears flower of reverence and fruit 


of wisdom. Thither more certainly flow the vital streams of conscience, 
free will, repentance, forgiveness, charity, and almost every other moral 
faculty and aspiration. But the stream whose course I have traced so 
imperfectly brings perhaps the most important tribute ; for the play of 
The Tempest appears to concern itself chiefly with the beauty, ecstasy, 
and sanctity of a pure love consummated by marriage. Not alone to 
* holy wedlock * (as he styles it in Lucrece) does the poet pay this last 
tribute of his spiritual genius ; significantly he pleads the wholesome 
discipline of courtship, and the yet more imperative need of pre-nuptial 
purity ; and he concludes by uttering what is perhaps the plainest and 
sternest of all his moral denunciations, for on unmarried love, he tells us 

No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall . . . 

but barren hate, 

Sour-eyed disdain and discord shall bestrew 
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly 
That you shall hate it both. (The Tempest, IV. i. 18-23.) 

' Parts *, says Dr. Johnson, * are not to be examined till the whole 
has been surveyed ' ; and the light I have endeavoured to throw on the 
two poems of Shakespeare is now seen to be a collective radiance, the 
radiance of a moral philosophy whose elements differ only as one star 
differeth from another star in glory. 





LET it be reasserted with fervency to-day that there is no limit 
to the possibilities of fresh interpretation of Shakespeare. Recent 
advance in psychology extends the horizon. But every subtle inter 
pretation will be met by the facile retort that it would have surprised 
Shakespeare to hear of meanings attributed to him. For popular 
criticism has not time to comprehend the truth that the supreme poet 
remains unaware of the full significance of his utterance. An old truth 
even in the days of Plato, it is implicitly assented to, inasmuch as refer 
ence to poetic * inspiration ' is a commonplace. The perfect poem is 
felt to have, instead of the inchoateness or formlessness of everyday 
self-expression, the harmony, unity, life of Nature's works. She 
being the producer of life and perfect form she, and not man's 
conscious will the poetry is therefore felt to be inspired by her. 

Indeed, if we grant the poet's right to the title of creator, what is it 
to declare, after Plato, that he does not know the full significance of 
his utterance, but to declare that he is not a God ? But there is no 
other truth so rich in implication and consequence as this, that man 
was made in the image of God. Wherefore Shakespeare, moulding with 
creative energy the dust of chaotic experience, makes of it cosmos and 
breathes into it life. And because Life is infinite, there is no terminus 
to the Shakespeare student's voyage of research. 

But every one is in too great a hurry ; and we must train ourselves 
in meditation. In the words of Hamlet to the Ghost 

Haste me to know it, that I with wings as swift 
As meditation . . . may sweep to my revenge 

there will be heard some day, by all who have understanding, the 
laughter of the supreme master of irony, causing the hero, in the very 
words with which he expresses the readiness of his will, to express 
unawares his impotence. Could Hamlet have thought of wings swifter 


than meditation, it might have better availed him. But if we be called, 
not to the swoop of revenge, as he was, but to the study of the deepest 
mind yet found among men, then the leisure of those brooding wings, 
and not the hawk's flight of journalism, is what we shall need. 

Milton, feeling that there were unplumbed depths in Shakespeare, 
expressed in fantastic words of homage his sense of the need of unhurried 
meditation : 

Thou, our fancy of itself bereaving, 

Dost make us marble with too much conceiving. 

If we have inherited Milton's feeling, then the real advance in 
psychology in our days may mean for us an increased measure of in 
sight. Criticism remains rich in heart-stirring possibilities of romantic 




NOT indeed in the theatrical sense of * as ' indeed one of the 
innumerable legends assigns him quite a different part in the play : nor 
referring to one of his own most delightful creations at all. But it was 
said once of a writer great in his own way, though the word * great 
ness * can hardly be used in the same sense (even with change of degree) 
of him and of Shakespeare that he * was a touchstone : for he in 
variably displeased all fools '. 

The difference of the greatness, however, appears in this very 
limitation. It is much in a man's favour that he should displease fools ; 
but merely arousing their displeasure does not necessarily imply any 
very wonderful or multifarious greatness in himself : certainly it does 
not imply any infinite quality. Nor is it perhaps true that Shakespeare 
displeases all fools, though it may be more arguable that all whom he 
does displease deserve the classification. 

The way in which he shows his touchstoneship is much more subtle 
and has much more of that uncanny infinity which is not improperly 
ascribed to him. He may not displease all fools : some fools may 
indeed be or may think themselves very proud of him, and admire 
him or think they admire him highly. But he has a terrible and 
unerring power of disclosing folly in those who talk of him, be they 
admirers or decriers. It may be said, * But is not this the case with 
every subject of long and varied discussion ? ' To some extent perhaps, 
and to a greater no doubt, the longer and the more varied the discussion 
has been. For in such cases there is an ever-growing temptation either 
to platitude simple or, still worse, to * platitude reversed ' to paradox, 
laborious innovation, affected heresy and the like, all of which are among 
the worst forms of folly. 

Yet it is difficult to remember any other subject, even among those 
that have, at one or more times, been absolutely fashionable and 
where there is fashion there is nearly always folly which has had quite 
this dread power. The Man in the Iron Mask, Junius, ' Was Pope 
a poet ? V Was Queen Mary guilty ? ' great store of folly has no doubt 


been evolved by the application of all these tests to fit persons ; but they 
were not infallible as such. Shakespeare is. 

He is indeed not only infallible directly in discovering folly in the 
persons who talk about him ; he has the doubly uncanny faculty of 
exercising a sort of secondary assay. Rymer in the early days, and 
Riimelin in later ones, succumb to his power in denouncing him ; and 
then other persons, defending or excusing Riimelin or Rymer, exhibit 
the fatal signs as a sort of contagion, though they may themselves be 
apparently sound on the main Shakespearian question. Not the cups 
and mirrors of eastern and western Romance, which revealed a lady's 
weakness or a knight's treachery, had this daemonic power of transferred 
detection. Yet, on the other hand, the equity of its operation can be 
illustrated by the example of Ernest Hello. Nobody has abused Shake 
speare more ; but nobody, even in praising him, has shown less folly. The 
premisses were wrong ; the standpoint out of range or focus ; the glasses 
coloured and bevelled unduly ; so that the judgement must be reversed 
or disallowed. But there has been no folly in this judge, and he need 
not be written down what so many judges have to be written down. 

Still the case is parlous ; and it is said that some persons, pusillani 
mous it may be but not wholly foolish, have actually declined to write 
books about Shakespeare, and have made special intercession for them 
selves before committing smaller risks about him to paper. As one 
looks over the three hundred years during which there has been 
possibility of Shakespeare discussion, the procession of * touched ' 
and discovered folly is great and rather terrible, if sometimes also very 
amusing. Dry den himself, emerging unstained and triumphant in the 
best of his utterances, fails, as is too well known, in at least one instance 
bears a spot on the otherwise untarnished surface. Of Rymer 's abuse 
no more need be said ; indeed, it is almost too amusing to be really 
abusive, and it is rather surprising that no one has recently taken the 
line that it was ' only his fun ' a willing sacrifice at the altar of the 
Comic Spirit, as they would perhaps call it. Poor Shad well's patronage 
has something of the same quality of amusement, but remains, alas ! 
unparadoxable as an evidence of folly. Except Johnson (from whom 
Folly fled invariably even when he was most prejudiced and most 
wrong-premissed) and Maurice Morgann (from whom Queen Whims 
drove her poor relation Folly off), almost all eighteenth-century critics, 
well deserving as they may be of the excuses or defences which have 
been recently made for them, betray the spot which the touchstone has 
made. Since Coleridge (though not in him) the occasional foolish faces 


of praise have been mingled with the crowd of those of blame though 
of course the latter have been the more numerous, while in a large 
number of cases it has not been necessary that the voluntary victim 
should take a side either in admiration or depreciation. On one of 
these sides there are the good folks who are sure that Shakespeare was 
disgusted by all his naughty characters ; those who try to make him out 
a partisan of their own views in politics, religion, and what not ; those 
who are quite sure that he not only * could be ' but always was * very 
serious ' who accordingly make elaborate apologetic explanations for 
things like the gallery-stuffing of the early plays, or even extenuate 
themselves in one sense at extenuating him in another, and trying to 
prove that passages, scenes, and even whole plays which they do not like 
are not his; with others of various amiably foolish kinds. On the 
opposite side the side of repudiation it is needless, and would indeed 
be impossible, to enumerate the various divisions and corps of the 
armies of Doubters and Bloodmen who attack our Mansoul. From the 
champions of the Unities to contemporaries who question whether 
Shakespeare has always attended properly to that * conflict ' which, it 
seems, is as necessary to a drama as a brown tree once was to a picture 
one knows them all. Of Baconians and other enemies of ' the Strat- 
forder ' who need talk ? do they not one and all bear on their arms the 
badge of Moria ? And so of the rest. 

But it is of the middle division, glanced at above, that the writer 
of this modest contribution has been chiefly thinking. Although a man 
may be quite free from theories of what drama ought to be and not in 
the least convinced that Shakespeare was written by Taylor the Water- 
poet still there are innumerable instances showing that when he takes 
up the study of the bard, the hood of Chaucer's contemporaries and the 
nightcap of Pope's becomes, in some hideous fashion, metamorphosed 
into another kind of headgear. It does not apparently matter much 
what his special line of investigation may be. Forty years ago, as some 
may directly remember and as others must have learnt from history, the 
prevailing craze was that of cutting up the plays, or some of them, into 
little stars and attributing these to Shakespeare's predecessor-contem 
poraries who must, according to such theories, have composed on the 
principle prevailing in ' places where they sing ' the parts of speeches 
being parcelled out like the phrasing of an anthem. But this game has, 
to some extent, been played out as regards Shakespeare, and has passed 
to other dramatists. Beaumont and Fletcher have already suffered 
much from it ; and those who live long enough will probably see 


passages of Goff bestowed upon Nabbes, and unrecognized fragments 
of Robert Davenport discovered in the plays of Lodowick Carlell. 
For some time the exercises in which Wisdom no doubt sometimes 
displays more or less of herself, but where Folly is often visible at full 
length, have been for the most part transformed to the interpretation 
of plot and character certainly a spacious field enough, and one on and 
about which one might hunt long and merrily on the chance of dis 
covering Wisdom, and in the certainty of meeting with Folly. But this is 
no place for particular records of the various gems. Were such a survey 
undertaken it would certainly confirm the general theory advanced 
in this paper that for a Touchstone of Folly there is nothing like 
Shakespeare ignoble as may at first seem to be the use to which we 
put our greatest. 

And yet, as has indeed been already hinted to the intelligent, 
though the use may be ignoble, the fact is very much the reverse. For 
it is only a function or special administration of that gift of universality 
which the first great critic of Shakespeare hit upon as his main charac 
teristic, and which all great critics of him (except one or two who have 
been deflected from the true way by some malign obstacle or influence) 
have recognized since. For the universal, of its very nature and defini 
tion, cannot be limited even to the enormous range of Shakespeare's 
actual utterances. It must include, or, to use a more exact word, extend 
to, not merely everything that he touches but everything that touches 
him. He brings out the qualities of a foolish critic of his plays, just 
as he does those of a foolish personage in them and poor Rymer, 
again, in the seventeenth century let us not be so ill mannered as to 
specify anybody in the twentieth has, like Shallow or Simple, to present 
himself as he is. Of course, the touchstone character is not limited to 
folly. It extends to wisdom as well, and we should not have known the 
full intellectual power of Coleridge, or the full appreciative power of 
Hazlitt, if it had not been for Shakespeare. Of course, likewise, as some 
clever one may say, this accounts for the foolish things that may have 
been said in this very paper. There is no possibility of denying it 
supposing that there have been any. But the fact would establish the 
theory if it were not wholly complimentary to the theorizer. And base 
is the slave who would not prefer the establishment of his doctrine to 
the gratification of his personality. 



Lady Day, 1916. 



ONE of the finest of all the essays written upon Shakespeare, that of 
Charles Lamb on the Tragedies, is hardly ever cited or discussed, so far 
as I have observed, among Shakespearians. The reason, I think, is that 
men are unwilling either to accept its thesis or to deny it a very good 
reason, perhaps, for leaving a question alone. ' It may seem a paradox/ 
writes Lamb, * but I cannot help being of opinion that the plays of 
Shakespeare are less calculated for performance on a stage than those 
of almost any other dramatist whatever. Their distinguishing excellence 
is a reason that they should be so. There is so much in them which 
comes not under the province of acting, with which eye and tone and 
gesture have nothing to do.' 

Lamb of course should not have said : ' It may seem a paradox, but ' 
he was propounding a paradox in the proper sense of the word, as 
Shakespeare used it, that is to say, a proposition that seems false, but is 
true. And though the proposition is likely to be spontaneously resisted 
by many, as it naturally was by Irving, no one, so far as I know, has ever 
sought to confute it save by way of simple denial and contrary assevera 
tion, a process from which Lamb's analysis escapes untouched. 

There is indeed just enough of suggestion in Lamb's essay of 
* paradox ' in the popular and perverted force of the term, enough of 
the mood that flouts a truism or a convention for the flouting 's sake, 
to give it so much of that aspect and literary status as serves to keep it 
out of the arena of serious critical debate. The initial motive of indigna 
tion at the epitaph which ranked Garrick as kindred in mind with 
Shakespeare was of a kind which often enough served Lamb for * para- 
doxing ' in the received sense ; and his handling of the old play of 
George Barnwell, with its ' trifling peccadillo, a murder of an uncle or so ', 
might very well keep up the confusion for readers not inclined to face 
the problem. And, lover as he was of the great art of acting, in which 
no man took more delight than he, he yet permitted himself to write 
as if he saw in it nothing but the personal demerits of its practitioners. 


But he was perfectly serious about his main thesis ; and, so far as his 
broad statement goes, he was perfectly right. He truly stated what, on 
the analogy of the * Paradox of Acting ', as put by Diderot, we may 
properly term the Paradox of Shakespeare. 

A glimpse of its truth must instantly come to any one who muses 
thoughtfully on the significance of the fact that the whole intellectual 
world is to-day commemorating, in the midst of the most tremendous 
war in all history, a theatre-poet of three hundred years ago who made 
his living, and a modest competence, as an actor and a playwright, 
a * public entertainer ' working on a commercial basis. What has availed 
to make him thus immortal, as immortality goes in the modern world ? 
Other men of that era, Luther and Copernicus, Rabelais and Montaigne, 
the great artists and poets of Italy, have had a still longer run of fame, 
with security for its continuance, on more or less obvious grounds. 
Protestants revere Luther ; all educated men salute Copernicus ; the 
writers, poets, and artists are esteemed as such. But Shakespeare, who 
of all writers wins the widest tribute, is not extolled primarily or essen 
tially as a writer of plays. Most of us have never seen half his plays 
staged, and our posterity is probably likely to see still less of them. 
Manifestly, it is by his readers that Shakespeare is pedestalled : he who 
wrote for the stage finds immortality in the study, like classics in general. 

Lamb's main thesis is that Shakespeare's work has a spiritual or 
intellectual content which of necessity eludes representation ; that the 
presentment obtrudes a multitude of details which positively shut out 
for us the greatest thought-impressions that the plays can make ; 
and that Hamlet or Othello on the stage is psychically for us a different 
being from the spirit revealed to us by the reading. * This was 
sometimes a paradox, but now the time gives it proof.' It is the tacit 
testimony of all students, of all who have really lived with Shakespeare. 
Lamb, of course, should have added that the stage can never give us the 
continuous impalpable inner music of the verse, the thrill of rhythm 
which fuses with our sense of the words, the ideas, the character, the 
problem. A faithful rendering of the verse as verse, sometimes demanded 
by critics from actors, would probably hinder instead of furthering the 
mimetic effect, the air of reality necessarily sought by the player : 
Irving, who knew his business on that side, used to make his superior 
effect of actuality as against his colleagues by positively disregarding 
verse measure. Verse is an * ideal ' medium for dramatic dialogue, 
representing not life, not mimesis, but verbal art : the * nature ' to which 
it holds up the mirror is not * practic ' but * theoric ' : its world is 


subjective, not objective. The player in Hamlet might have suggested 
to the critic-Prince that it is ' from the purpose of playing '. 

We seem to come, then, to what looks like a paradox in the popular 
meaning, a mere extravagance, flouting common-sense ; to wit, the 
verdict that the admittedly greatest of all dramatists was not rightly or 
essentially a dramatist but something else ; and that the end at which 
he certainly aimed throughout his life is not the end which he best 
achieves. Yet so it is : this is the true paradox. 

The main fact is substantiated, for one thing, by the growing 
infrequency and the experimental character of the stage representations. 
Germans boast, and sometimes thereby disconcert the ingenuous 
Briton, that among them Shakespeare is much more played than among 
us. But that fact, so far from proving a higher appreciation of Shake 
speare in Germany than here, is really a proof to the contrary. Germans 
run Shakespeare on the stage as they run their State ideal, in the spirit 
of idolatry or convention- worship, not as a matter of independent 
critical judgement. They have been drilled and told what to admire, 
as they have been drilled and told what to think, to say, and to do. 
People who suppose they can get Shakespeare on the stage, in transla 
tion, as they can get him in the book, in his own tongue, are bowing to 
a convention, not to the reality, which is subjective. The cultured 
Englishman knows this, with or without the help of Lamb : the average 
German does not. Shakespeare is to-day more widely read in his own 
tongue than ever, and this will continue while his plays are staged less 
and less. 

Perhaps we shall better realize the truth of the paradox if we note 
some of the exceptions suggested by Lamb's * almost '. Shakespeare's 
dramas, clearly, are not less ' calculated ' for performance on a stage 
than those of Marlowe, who, though not properly an epic poet, as is 
suggested by Professor Schroer of Freiburg, is, especially in his earlier 
plays, much less of a stage poet than our master. Tamburlaine, as poetry 
and as primitive psychic creation, is to-day simply unplayable ; but 
Faustus and Barabas, in their different ways, are also irreducible to the 
plane of the theatre. Marlowe, in a word, had in his simpler ' elemental ' 
fashion charged these creations with a conceptual content which eludes 
the stage, the poetry and the character-concept being alike extraneous 
to the mechanism of representation. And even when he devotes himself 
to quasi-realism, the law of the poetic drama holds good for his work. 
If Professor Schroer had perceived, as editors are now beginning to 
do, that Fleay was right in pronouncing Richard the Third a creation of 


Marlowe, he would have altered his proposition : Richard is the result 
of a steady progress towards dramatic as distinct from poetic construc 
tion. But, as Lamb expressly contends, Richard in his degree also 
transcends drama proper. The intellectual monster, the poetic villain, 
like the poetic hero, exists as an idea behind the enacted man. 

Shakespeare, then, with his far more various and profounder gifts, 
and with his far greater measure of practical judgement in combination 
with these, did but fulfil in his far truer and greater ideal world 
the destiny of the poet turned dramatist. Endowed with the most 
consummate faculty of sympathy and comprehension, he was made a 
dramatist by his vocation, to his and our unspeakable profit ; for there 
is nothing in his two long poems to suggest that, poet as he was, he could 
ever have ' found himself ' save in the dramatic form. And the evolu 
tion of the plays tells of an original bias to the poetic, the discursive, 
which only the needs and pressures of the stage could reduce to dramatic 
service. In Love's Labour 's Lost and the Midsummer Night's Dream 
we have poetic extravaganzas rather than plays : the early Comedies of 
action are presumptively recasts of older work ; and King John, written 
after an old model, is poetic, discursive, eloquent, to the limit of the 
theatre's acceptance. It is only after a dozen years of stage experience 
that we get Othello, with its intense compression ; and in Othello, with 
all its lightning-like effects of action, the sheer idealism of the con 
ception, as Lamb maintained, outgoes the process on the stage. 

But there is another side to the problem. The tragedies of Jonson, 
assuredly, are not ' calculated ' for representation ; and here we have 
the express evidence of theatrical history, as it were in defiance of Lamb's 
thesis, that in the Stuart days audiences delighted in Shakespeare who 
turned away from ' tedious but well-laboured Catiline '. Jonson, in 
tragedy, missed his end on the stage without attaining another in the 
study ; for in his case even great rhetoric has failed to attain that some 
thing more than drama which is the secret of the dominion of Shake 
speare. With all his strength, he had neither the elemental creative 
force of Marlowe nor the all-comprehending sympathy of Shakespeare : 
he is but the doctrinaire of poetic tragedy. There has never been a 
Jonson club, I think, since Jonson 's generation, when his personality 
* made a school ' for him. For posterity, his work lacks magic. 

But already we are faced by the qualification which must be placed 
on Lamb's paradox. The stage vogue of Shakespeare tells that not only 
was his sheer stage-craft the best of his age, but something in his work 
conquered that age, even on the boards. It can hardly be that actors 


then were subtler than now : it must have been that his vision of life, 
his high-poised sanity and his imaginative reach, forced themselves 
on a generation accustomed to poetic drama, though the later vogue of 
the hectic tragedy of Beaumont and Fletcher indicates the critical limits 
of the popular culture. And since that day, down to our own, some 
thing of the overtones and undertones of Shakespeare's incomparable 
speech, something of his larger message, must have touched the more 
impressible even of the audiences, for many of whom the sensations of the 
ghosts and the fencing in Hamlet and Macbeth were the capital items. 

And in the comedies, too, though Lamb claimed that he could 
prove his case for these as for the tragedies if he would, the play of fun 
and feeling, the unserious poetry, so much nearer the plane of the actual, 
must have meant some seizure of Shakespeare's charm. As You Like It 
is not a world of * cloudy companionship ' and hovering reverie ; and 
to witness it is to be in the poet's sunshine, though the stage lets slip 
through its fingers the music and the moonlit poetry of Belmont, to 
say nothing of the wonder-world of The Tempest. But thus still the 
paradox holds : the Shakespeare of the stage is in the main but the inte 
gument in which the greatest of dramatic poets infused his utmost art 
of rhythmic speech and of brooding sympathy with the fates of men. 
Wellnigh all his plots came to him as vehicles tested by theatrical 
success in other hands ; and to them he committed his invisible freight 
of poetry and thought, the infinite dream of his imagination. The 
paradox of Shakespeare, in short, is that of the master-poet led by 
economic destiny to the work in which alone, to an end he could not 
have foreseen, his poetic power could attain its supremest possibilities, 
that task which, if economically free, he would probably not have chosen, 
of being the poetic mouthpiece of a world of imagined men and women. 
Becoming a theatre-poet to make his livelihood, he builded better than 
he can possibly have known. And thus, perhaps, his paradox is finally 
just the paradox of all genius that reaches consummation. 





DEATH 1916 

Come the three corners of the world in arms, 

And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue, 

If England to itself do rest but true. 

King John, Act V, Sc. vii. 

CALM at the height of Danger's darkest hour, 

With hearts enduring, hands outstretched to save 

That civil world the foe would fain devour, 

The whelming rush of barbarous hosts we brave ; 

And, trusting to the safe, well-guarded wave, 
Confront the battle. Mighty is the power 
Of Freedom, Britain's heirloom, sacred dower, 

By Flanders' blood secured, and Suvla's grave 1 

But yet a stronger talisman we own, 

A nobler Unity our souls confess, 
Felt in each Briton's heart ev'n while unsung, 

Alike in torrid air and frozen zone ; 
A free-born Empire's patriot consciousness, 

Tuned to the music of our Shakespeare's tongue. 


The same, loosely paraphrased in Italian. 

Nel mezzo di periglio Talma forte 

Rinforzo stende ed ospitalitate 

Dair Anglia alle genti abbandonate, 
Che vuol vorar di Prusia il crudel corte ; 
Dove, gP eredi d'una degna sorte, 

Fidiamo noi air onde ben guardate, 

E voi T area nostra sicurate, 
Col sangue, Flandra, e, Suvla, colla morte. 
Vi resta a noi piu forte talismano, 

Deir unita che splende al mondo intero, 
Che quando pure senza rime vanta 

L' Inglese, ed il Dominio di lontano ; 
La conscienza libera d* Impero : 

Fra noi ella nacque, ed il Shakespeare la canta. 


L 2 



I SEE them peopled, as he weaves the spell, 

Verona, Padua, Venice, a new crown 

Of honour added to their old renown : 

But if his own eyes saw them none may tell. 

No trivial spirit of his ampler days 

Revealed the poet's secret, which is well. 

He is exempt from question or dispraise, 

And time has left us but the miracle. 

We may not know if ever he came here, 

Whose intuitions baffle and transcend 

Our knowledge, and begin where we must end ; 

But I would dream it, and such dreams are dear, 

Since all the sun, the magic, and the mirth 

Are in his words, * that pleasant country's earth.' 




To be invited to join in a tribute to the memory of Shakespeare is 
to receive an embarrassing and perilous honour. Let me try to escape 
some at least of its dangers by avoiding the impertinence of any direct 
words about his genius, and trying rather to give an indirect proof of 
its transcendent working as seen in a case in which it has, I think, as it 
were, over-reached itself. 

Falstaff is admittedly Shakespeare's greatest humorous creation and 
perhaps the greatest purely humorous figure in the literature of the 
world. Now it is an invariable characteristic of humour that to a greater 
or less extent it dissolves morality. In so far as the humour of a humor 
ous person takes possession of us we do not notice, or at least do not 
condemn, his vices. This is so in our view of actual historical characters. 
The drunkenness of Charles Lamb, the conjugal infidelities of La 
Fontaine, are not judged as they would be judged if we were not entirely 
preoccupied with our delight in their humour and with the affection 
which flows out to people who give us that delight. And the same thing 
is still more noticeable in the case of fictitious characters. We ought 
to think of Mrs. Gamp as an abominable old woman, dirty, drunken, 
heartless. But in fact we never think anything of the sort. Indeed we 
do not think at all : if we did we might be forced to think hard things of 
the old sinner, but she takes good care to keep us better occupied. 
Whenever she is present, we take our ease in our inn, drinking with 
greedy delight of her inexhaustible fountain, far too happy to remember 
anything graver than our happiness. 

Falstaff is, of course, an incomparably greater figure than Mrs. Gamp, 
and naturally the effect he produces is still more remarkable. Nobody 
exactly likes Mrs. Gamp : we all love Falstaff. Why ? Not only because 
Falstaff is greater than Mrs. Gamp, but because she is a figure which we 
see in the street and he is a figure we find in the looking-glass. It is 
a magnifying glass, no doubt, but still what it shows us is ourselves. 
Ourselves, not as we are, but as we can fancy we might have been ; 


expanded, exalted, extended in every direction of bodily life, all the 
breadth and depth and height of it. Not a man of us but is conscious 
in himself of some seed that might have grown into Falstaff 's joyous and 
victorious pleasure in the life of the senses. There, we feel, but for the 
grace of God, and but for our own inherent weakness and stupidity, go 
we : just as in Hamlet we feel our own glorified selves in another way, 
dreaming, hesitating, self-questioning, only that it is all raised a thou 
sandfold in quantity and quality, and that Hamlet, like Falstaff, can give 
free and glorious form and utterance to what in us is only incoherent and 
inarticulate chaos. So in both we love ourselves, as indeed it is always 
some kinship with ourselves that we love in others. That is the truth 
behind the homo sum, humani nihil alienum of Terence and behind 
greater sayings than Terence ever uttered. But in Falstaff we love 
a quality that has always been found peculiarly human and lovable. 
What delights us in him is not merely the sense of an infinite freedom 
that he gives us, the escape into a world in which the police and the Ten 
Commandments are not only impotent, but ridiculous, and in which the 
spirit, as it were, of the body is as free from the constraint of the soul, as 
in Shelley's poetry the spirit of the soul is free from the constraint of the 
body. All this exalts us and gives us joy. But what specially wins our 
love is something else. It is that Falstaff, at his most triumphant times, 
is triumphant at his own expense. If he did not know that he was 
a gross tun of flesh, a drunkard, a coward, and a liar we should know 
it much more and love him much less. Here, as in religion, the way 
of confession is the way of forgiveness. And forgiving is very near 
loving. So when we hear La Fontaine laughing at his own follies and 
confessing his own sins, we not only forgive him, we love him. Perhaps 
he is the only French poet for whom we have exactly that indulgent 
affection, because no other has anything like so much of what we think 
the supreme element of humour, that which induces a man to laugh 
freely at himself ; a quality which has been much more English than 
French, as wit, which is akin to satire and mostly exercised at the expense 
of other people, has been more brilliant in France than in England. 

Well, of course Falstaff is peculiarly rich in this crowning gift. 
1 Thou seest I have more flesh than another man ; and therefore more 
frailty.' ' I do here walk before thee like a sow that hath overwhelmed 
all her litter but one/ ' A goodly portly man, i' faith, and a corpulent ; 
of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage . . . and 
now I remember me, his name is Falstaff : if that man should be lewdly 
given, he deceiveth me ; for, Harry, I see virtue in his looks.' It is 


everywhere, of course, in both the plays. And probably it is this 
supreme quality that, added on to all the rest, has given Falstaff the 
unique distinction which Shakespeare never meant him to have. 

It is the triumph of Mrs. Gamp and her like, as we were saying just 
now, to suspend the action of the moral judgement. And if of Mrs. 
Gamp, of course a hundred times more of Falstaff. But Falstaff has 
a glory which he shares with no one else. If other humorous creations 
suspend judgement, he can do much more. He can victoriously reverse 
it. His humorous confession of his sins so disarms and delights us, 
that he has positively persuaded more than one subtle person to deny 
their existence altogether. Maurice Morgann in the eighteenth century 
was his first conquest. Others have followed, the most significant being 
the finest of living Shakespearean critics, Mr. A. C. Bradley, who sub 
stantially agrees with Morgann that Falstaff was not a coward, and adds 
that he was not a liar either, in the ordinary sense of that word. 

My object now is not to discuss this theory in detail, which would 
require far more space than I can ask for here. It is rather to draw 
attention to the proof it affords of Shakespeare's amazing power, even 
when exercised, as it were, to his own defeat. He has so flooded Fal 
staff with the dazzling light of his genius that some of those among his 
critics who are most able to bear and enjoy such light, have been blinded 
by it to the other and grosser elements in Falstaff which to duller eyes 
are plain and indubitable. For that the theory is a complete mistake is, 
I venture to think, certain, for two broad reasons which almost render 
unnecessary the detailed discussion of the evidence of the text. This 
last is admittedly not all on one side of the argument, though even here 
the preponderance seems to me considerable. But details discovered 
in the closet can never be an answer to the broad effect made upon the 
stage. No man ever understood the theatre better than Shakespeare. 
It is certain that all the large and general impressions his characters make 
upon the stage can only be the impressions which he intended them to 
make. Now what that impression has always been in the case of Fal 
staff is not doubtful. The audience has throughout regarded him as 
a coward and a liar, and Shakespeare must have known that it would and 
meant that it should. To attempt to reverse this impression on the 
strength of little-noticed inconsistencies, such as the surrender of Sir 
John Colevile, is as hopeless a business as the similar attempt to make 
of Shy lock a sympathetic figure, because Shakespeare made him a human 
being instead of a stage Jew. Shakespeare wrote for the pit, not for the 
critics : and though the critics are always adding to our wonder and 


delight by discovering things which, unperceived by the pit, were 
consciously or unconsciously in the poet's mind, yet on these broad 
issues the continuous verdict of the pit is final. 

There is another general consideration which seems to me equally 
fatal to the view taken by Morgann and his successors. Is there not 
I suggest it with great hesitation some lack of humour in suggesting 
that Falstaff was not a coward and a liar ? What is left of the humour of 
the great scene at the Boar's Head if * A plague of all cowards, I say ' is 
to come from a brave man's mouth ? And where is the humour of 
* Lord, Lord, how this world is given to lying ', if the speaker be as 
truthful as the Duke of Wellington ? What is left of the humour of the 
Prince's chaff * I lack some of thy instinct ' if all the audience does not 
know that Falstaff is what the Prince elsewhere calls him * a natural 
coward without instinct ' ? And where is the fun of the whole refutation 
-' Mark now how a plain tale shall put you down ' if Falstaff had not 
intended and expected to pass himself off as the hero of the affair ? That 
is not the language in which a man replies to a joke ; and if Falstaff did 
not intend to be believed why, I wonder, did he hack his sword to make 
it evidence ? Mr. Bradley thinks it absurd to suppose that he would 
have made the mistake about declaring the men were ' in Kendal green ' 
just after asserting that it was so dark that he could not see his hand. 
Has Mr. Bradley never been in a police court ? Every day there gives 
proof of how difficult it is to tell a lie without at the same time providing 
its refutation ? Certainly no small part of the humour of the scene lies 
in Falstaff 's glorious escape from the refutation of his story. But to 
suppose that the whole scene is a kind of make-believe, that he did not 
expect to be believed, and they did not intend to put him to shame, 
seems to me to destroy half the delight of his victorious escape, which 
we enjoy and admire precisely because it seemed so inevitable that he 
would be reduced to confusion by the Prince's exposure. 

No, Mr. Bradley and those who agree with him are simply the 
strongest evidence of the amazing magic of Shakespeare's creation. The 
true explanation of their delusion is akin to that which Mr. Bradley 
himself so ingeniously and convincingly offers of the puzzling scene of 
the rejection of Falstaff. That scene is unpleasant, which is certainly 
not what Shakespeare meant it to be. He must have intended us to 
think Henry's conduct natural and to sympathize with it. But we do 
not. And the reason must be, in Mr. Bradley's words, that Shakespeare 


had * created so extraordinary a being and fixed him so firmly on his 
intellectual throne that when he sought to dethrone him he could not '. 
So with those who are blind to FalstafPs lying and cowardice. Shake 
speare has shown them such a light that they can see nothing else, not 
even what he meant them to see. He has given them such delight that 
they will not admit the reality of anything that might detract from it. 
He has created a being so overflowing with an inexhaustible fountain of 
life and humanity that they love him and enter into him and become 
themselves so much a part of him that they are ready to explain away his 
vices as we all explain away our own. So far Shakespeare has overshot 
his own mark. Not on the stage, nor with the plain man. There the 
liar and coward will always be as visible as the genius. But for men of 
more than ordinary susceptibility to intellectual pleasure Shakespeare 
has in Falstaff provided a too intoxicating banquet. They find in 
Falstaff a man to whom lying with genius was simply a natural and 
pleasurable activity of his nature, who lies with glorious delight and 
commonly with triumphant success, who is himself supremely happy 
when he lies and makes all who hear or read him supremely happy too. 
They find that when they are with him they are in Heaven, which is 
a place where acts are their own ends, and they will not admit that he 
runs away, except for the pleasure of it, or lies, except as an artist, 
delighting in doing what he knows he can do as no other man can, and 
without any ulterior object of profit or reward. So with such men, and 
so far, Shakespeare fails, with this glorious failure. Their judgements 
are drowned in a flood of intellectual delight. 




IT has long been recognized that the epithalamic ending of A 
Midsummer Night's Dream points to performance at a wedding, and that 
the compliment to the * fair vestal throned by the west ' points to a 
wedding at which Queen Elizabeth was present. The most plausible 
date hitherto suggested is January 26, 1595, on which William Stanley, 
Earl of Derby, married the Lady Elizabeth Vere, daughter of the Earl 
of Oxford, granddaughter of William, Lord Burghley, and goddaughter 
and maid of honour to the queen. This would fit in well enough with 
the allusions in the play to the bad weather of 1594, and to the lion at 
the baptism of Prince Henry of Scotland on August 30 of the same year ; 
while the presence of Elizabeth has been inferred from the words of 
Stowe, who says that * The 26 of January William Earl of Derby 
married the Earl of Oxford 's daughter at the court then at Greenwich, 
which marriage feast was there most royally kept '. I have long been 
puzzled by the statement that the wedding was * at the court ' ; not so 
much because the Treasurer of the Chamber made no payment for 
a court play on January 26, 1595, since the performance might have been 
ordered, not by the queen, but by the friends of the bride or bridegroom, 
as because the wedding itself does not appear in the list of those 
solemnized in the royal chapel and closet which is preserved in the so- 
called ' Cheque-Book ' of the Chapel (ed. E. F. Rimbault, 160), and 
I have now good reason to think that Stowe made a mistake on this point, 
for in the accounts of the churchwardens of St. Martin's, Westminster 
(ed. J. V. Kitto, 471), I find for the year 1595 the following entry : 

Item paid the xxx th of January for ringinge At her Ma ties Comynge to y* Lord 
Threasurers to y 6 Earle of Darbies weddinge And at her Departure from thence y* fyrst 
of ffebruary ij 1 . 

The court appears, indeed, to have been established at Greenwich 
from the middle of December, 1594, to the middle of February 1595. 
But it was not uncommon for Elizabeth, especially in her somewhat 



restless old age, to leave the court for a day or two's sojourn with some 
favoured courtier in London or the neighbouring villages ; and it was 
evidently upon such an occasion that she did honour to the nuptials of 
Elizabeth Vere at Burghley House in the Strand. There is no entry 
of the marriage in the registers of St. Martin's or of St. Clement Danes, 
in which parishes Burghley House stood, and I think it is probable that 
it took place in the chapel of the Savoy, hard by, the registers of which 
are lost, for a contemporary record of another wedding, a few years later, 
tells us (H.M.C.y Rutland MSS. i. 379) : 

The feast was held here at Burghley howse. M rs bryde with her hayre hanging- downe 
was led betwen two yong bachelors from Burghley Howse thorough the streete, strawed, 
to the Savoy gate against my lodging, and so to that church. 

I do not think that it is necessary, on the strength of the St. Martin's 
entry, to reject Stowe's date as well as his locality. The bell-ringings 
for Elizabeth's removals are often entered with only approximate 
accuracy, possibly because the churchwardens recorded the dates of 
the payments rather than those of the services rendered. And Stowe's 
January 26 can in fact be confirmed from another source. On January 
27 Anthony Bacon wrote from London to Francis Bacon at Twickenham, 
telling him that Antonio Perez had highly commended the queen's 
grace and the royal magnificence of some court solemnity then on hand 
(T. Birch, Elizabeth, i. 199), and this crossed a letter of the same date 
from Francis to Anthony (Spedding, Life and Letters, i. 353), in which 
he said : 

I hope by this time Antonio Perez hath seen the Queen dance (that is not it, but her 
disposition of body to be fresh and good I pray God both subjects and strangers may long 
be witnesses of). I would be sorry the bride and bridegroom should be as the weather hath 
fallen out, that is go to bed fair and rise lowring. 

Spedding could not identify the bride and bridegroom, but there 
can be no doubt about them. Elizabeth, of course, was ready to dance 
on the edge of her grave ; Burghley, the master of the feast, old and 
gouty, was for other than for dancing measures. He had written to 
Robert Cecil on December 2 (T. Wright, Elizabeth and her Times, 
ii. 440) : 

For her hope to have me dance, I must have a longer tyme to learn to go, but 
I will be ready in mynd to dance with my hart, when I shall behold her favorable 
disposition to do such honor to her mayd, for the old man's sake. 

And on January 2 he added : 

Though my hand is unable to fight, and my right eye unable to take a levell, yet they 
both do stoop to return my humble thankes for continuance of her favor at this tyme, when 
I am more fitter for an hospital, than to be a party for a marriage. 


These notices of the wedding indicate a mask, rather than a play ; 
but the two would not be incompatible. The internal evidence of 
A Midsummer Night's Dream does not take us much farther. The 
much-travelled Theseus might have been thought appropriate to William 
Stanley, whose own travels are said to have taken him as far as the Holy 
Land and Russia, and in later Lancashire legends grew to quite mythical 
proportions. There is the famous passage in which occurs the compli 
ment to Elizabeth. The attempts of the older commentators to turn 
the mermaid and the falling stars and the little western flower into an 
allegory of Mary Queen of Scots and the northern rebellion, or of the 
intrigue of Leicester with the Countess of Essex, may be summarily 
disregarded. Whatever else complimentary poetry is, it must be in the 
first place gratifying to the person complimented, and in the second 
place reasonably topical. The northern rebellion and Leicester's mar 
riage were both forgotten far-off things in 1595, nor was either of them 
calculated to give Elizabeth much pleasure in the retrospect. The 
marriage in particular had caused her bitter mortification in its day, and 
if Edmund Tilney had allowed Shakespeare to allude to it before her, 
he would have signed his own warrant for the Tower, and Shakespeare's 
for the Marshalsea. What Shakespeare was describing was, as it pro 
fessed to be, a water-pageant with fireworks. But again, it is only a 
want of historical perspective or a sentimental desire to find a reminis 
cence of Shakespeare's childhood in his plays, which can explain the 
common identification of this water-pageant with that given at Kenil- 
worth as far back as 1575. The princely pleasures of Kenilworth loom 
large to us out of the fragmentary records of Elizabeth's progresses, 
because they were set down in a racy pamphlet at the time, and because 
Scott used them as material for a novel. But there were many such 
entertainments both before and after, and if Shakespeare had any 
particular one in mind, it is far more likely to have been that which had 
occurred comparatively recently, when Elizabeth visited the Earl of 
Hertford at Elvetham in September, 1591. As a matter of fact, there was 
not a mermaid on a dolphin's back either at Kenilworth or at Elvetham. 
At Kenilworth there was a Triton on a mermaid's back, which is not 
quite the same thing. There was the Lady of the Lake, who might 
perhaps be called a sea-maid. And there was Arion on a dolphin's 
back, who sang to the music of instruments in the dolphin's belly. 
There were fireworks also, but apparently not on the same day as the 
water-pageant. At Elvetham there was * a pompous aray of sea- 


persons ', including Nereus, five Tritons, Neptune, and Oceanus, with 
* other sea-gods ' and a train in * ouglie marine suites '. They brought 
in Neaera, the ' sea-nymph/ who sang a ditty. Meanwhile a * snail- 
mount ' in the water resembled ' a monster, having homes of wild-fire 
continuously burning ' ; but here also the principal display of fireworks 
was on another day. Obviously, so far as subject-matter goes, Elvetham 
might, just as well as Kenilworth, have furnished the motive for the 
extremely sketchy reminiscences of Oberon. It may be added that at 
Elvetham the queen of the fairies, not for the first time in the history of 
Elizabethan pageantry, had made her appearance. She is called Aureola, 
not Titania, but names the king as Auberon. It goes without saying 
that Cupid all armed is not mentioned in either account. He could only 
be seen by Oberon. But it is to Cupid and the wound inflicted by his 
bolt on the little western flower that the whole description leads up. 
The flower has a part in the action of the play, and possibly we ought not 
to seek for any further motive for its introduction. But if it points, as 
some think, at an enamoured woman, how can this possibly be Lady 
Essex, or anybody else but the bride in whose glorification, next 
only to that of Elizabeth, the play was written ? I do not assert that 
William Stanley and Elizabeth Vere, then sixteen, met and loved at 
Elvetham in 1591. Indeed, as will be seen before the end of this article, 
I do not assert that William Stanley and Elizabeth Vere were the bride 
groom and bride of the play at all. But Elizabeth Vere, as one of the 
queen's maids, is at least likely to have been there, and William Stanley, 
who was coming and going in 1589 and 1590 between London and his 
father's houses in the north (Stanley Papers, ii. 66, 78, 82), may quite 
well have been there too. Elizabeth Vere's marriage had been one of the 
preoccupations of Lord Burghley, who had evidently taken over the 
responsibilities of her fantastic father, the Earl of Oxford, for some 
years before 1595. Early in 1591 the Earl of Bedford was spoken of 
(S. P. Dom. Eliz. ccxxxviii. 69), but it came to nothing, and Bedford 
married ' the Muses' evening, as their morning, star/ Lucy Harrington. 
About 1592 Burghley had been making suit for the Earl of Northumber 
land, * but my Lady Veare hath answered her grandfather that she can not 
fancye him ' (H. M. C., Rutland MSS. i. 300). William Stanley was at 
this time only an undistinguished younger son, and Burghley, perhaps 
the greatest of our civil servants, had the civil servant's not uncommon 
foible for founding a dynasty. It was in 1594 that the deaths in rapid 
succession of his father and his elder brother left Stanley the most 
eligible match in England. 


Philostrate offers as a wedding device the ' satire keen and critical ', 


The thrice three Muses mourning 1 for the death 
Of Learning, late deceased in beggary. 

This has been regarded as support for the Stanley- Vere identifica 
tion, on the ground that Spenser's Tears of the Muses was dedicated in 
1591 to Lady Strange, the wife of Stanley's brother and predecessor 
in the title. I have used the argument myself, but I now doubt its 
validity. It is not at all clear that this lady would have been at the 
wedding. There was bitter feud in 1595 between her and her brother- 
in-law over the succession to the Derby estates, and already on May 9, 
1594, she had written to Burghley (H. M. C., Hatfield MSS. iv. 527) : 

I hear of a motion of marriage between the Earl, my brother, and my Lady Vere, your 
niece, but how true the news is I know not, only I wish her a better husband. 

One wonders how far Lady Derby was cognisant of the rumours 
sedulously spread about the country by the Jesuits as to the death 
of the late Earl, which had been sudden, had suggested suspicions 
of poisoning or witchcraft, and had robbed the Catholic intriguers of 
a hoped-for pretender. One version (H. M. C., Hatfield MSS. v. 253) 
ascribed a crime to * my lord that now is ' ; another (S. P. Dom. Eliz. 
ccxlix. 92) to Burghley, in order that he might marry the young Lady 
Vere to the Earl's brother. I now come to the rather curious fact that 
at the Stanley-Vere wedding there actually does appear to have been 
a show of the nine muses, although it was not in the least concerned 
with * Learning, late deceased in beggary.' This emerges from a letter 
written by Arthur Throgmorton to Robert Cecil (H. M. C., Hatfield 
MSS. v. 99). It is a curious side-light, not merely upon the methods, 
but upon some of the underlying motives of Elizabethan pageantry. 

Matter of mirth from a good mind can minister no matter of malice, both being, as 
I believe, far from such sourness (and for myself I will answer for soundness.) I am bold 
to write my determination, grounded upon grief and true duty to the Queen, thankfulness 
to my lord of Derby, (whose honourable brother honoured my marriage) and to assure you 
I bear no spleen to yourself. If I may I mind to come in a masque, brought in by the 
nine muses, whose music, I hope, shall so modify the easy softened mind of her Majesty as 
both I and mine may find mercy. The song, the substance I have herewith sent you, 
myself, whilst the singing, to lie prostrate at her Majesty's feet till she says she will save 
me. Upon my resurrection the song shall be delivered by one of the muses, with a ring 
made for a wedding ring set round with diamonds, and with a ruby like a heart placed 
in a coronet, with this inscription, Elizabetha potest. I durst not do this before I had 
acquainted you herewith, understanding her Majesty had appointed the masquers, which 


resolution hath made me the unreadier : yet, if this night I may know her Majesty's leave 
and your liking, I hope not to come too late, though the time be short for such a show and 
my preparations posted for such a presence. I desire to come in before the other masque, 
for I am sorrowful and solemn, and my stay shall not be long. I rest upon your resolution, 
which must be for this business to-night or not at all. 

The letter is only endorsed * Jan. 1594,' but the reference to Lord 
Derby serves to relate it. Arthur Throgmorton of Paulerspury was 
brother of Elizabeth Throgmorton, who married Sir Walter Raleigh. 
But he can hardly have been wishing in 1595 to purge the offence given 
by his sister in 1592, and of his own marriage I only know that it was to 
Anne, daughter of Sir John Lucas of Essex (Bridges, Northamptonshire, 
i. 312). Nor can one quite see why he should have intruded his private 
affairs upon Derby's festival. 

This note is growing upon my hands into a dissertation. I must 
refrain from discussing the troubled early married life of the Stanleys, 
which justified Bacon's fear that they might * go to bed fair and rise 
lowring ', rather than Oberon's benediction of * the best bride-bed ' ; or 
the later connexion of the earl with a company of players, which led 
a quite competent archivist to the astounding discovery that he, another 
W. S., was the real author of Shakespeare's plays. But I am afraid 
I must add that I am by no means convinced that A Midsummer Night's 
Dream was given on January 26, 1595, at all, although the plausibilities 
are perhaps more in favour of that date than any other. I should like, 
however, to be able to explore more fully the circumstances of a wedding 
which has never yet been considered, that of Thomas, son of Henry 
Lord Berkeley, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Carey, on February 
19, 1596. This is stated in the latest edition of G. E. C.'s peerage, 
probably on the evidence of the unprinted registers of St. Anne's, to 
have taken place from the Blackfriars, which is extremely likely, as Sir 
George Carey had his town house there, next door to the building which 
became Burbage's Blackfriars theatre. But I do not know that the 
queen was present, although she may well have been, as Elizabeth 
Carey was another of her goddaughters, and granddaughter of her 
first cousin and Lord Chamberlain, Henry Lord Hunsdon. The 
attractiveness of the suggestion lies in the fact that Shakespeare's com 
pany were Lord Hunsdon 's men, and subsequently passed under Sir 
George Carey's own patronage, when he in his turn became Lord 
Hunsdon on his father's death later in 1596. Lady Carey was a sister 
of the Lady Strange to whom The Tears of the Muses was dedicated. 
Sir George Carey is known to have been present at the Elvetham enter- 


tainment of 1591, but it would hardly be possible to put the origin of the 
Berkeley-Carey match there, for it was only in 1595 that this was 
arranged, after negotiations for Lord Herbert, afterwards Earl of Pem 
broke, had fallen through, and the Berkeley family chronicler definitely 
places the beginnings of affection between the young couple in the 
autumn of that year (Collins, Sydney Papers, i. 353, 372 ; T. Smyth, 
Lives of the Berkeley s, ii. 383, 395). 




ALL'S WELL ! Nay, Spirit, was it well that she, 
Thy clear-eyed favourite, the wise, the rare, 
The * rose of youth ', must her deep heart lay bare, 

And Helen wait on Bertram's contumely ? 

Must Love's own humble, dauntless devotee 
Make Night accomplice, and, a changeling, dare 
The loveless love-encounter, and prepare 

To tread the brink of shame ? May all this be, 

And all end well ? That Spirit, from his seat 
Elysian, seems to murmur : * Sometimes know, 

In Love's unreason hidden, Nature's voice; 
In Love's resolve, Her will ; and though his feet 
Walk by wild ways precipitous, yet, so 

Love's self be true, Love may at last rejoice.' 





1 If music be the food of love, play on.' 

Twelfth Night, ACT I, Scene i. 

WHAT wilt thou give me ? Thou canst give me naught ; 

Thou hast denied the honey of thy lips, 
Thou dared'st not offer what my sick heart sought, 

Love's full awakening and apocalypse. 
If much thou gav'st, 'twas but a beggar's fee : 

Or if but little, 'twas a winter's smile, 
A mockery of friendliness the while 

Thy heart was set on dreams more worthy thee. 

Half-given and half-withdrawn, thy kindness fell 
Athwart my aching and tempestuous need 

Like the lone note of some forgotten bell, 

Which swings its message faint across the mead 

Sound heard in stillness through the vacant air, 
An echo of dead passion and despair. 



Yet, for I love thee so, I needs must cling 

To the old haunts, albeit the trees are bare, 
And in the ruined branches no birds sing 

Mid death and desolation everywhere. 
The shadow of my presence at thy door 

Thou canst not banish to forgetfulness : 
My footfall echoes ghost-like on thy floor, 

And scarce-heard voices whisper my distress, 

Spurn if thou wilt and still my patient heart 
Is humbler than the humblest to adore 

Whatever thy fancy scatters from its store 
Of happiness or grief, content or smart : 

I only ask a momentary grace 

To see once more the wonder of thy face ! 


M 2 



LEAR'S Fool stands in a place apart a sacred place ; but, of Shake 
speare's other Fools, 1 Feste, the so-called Clown in Twelfth Night, has 
always lain nearest to my heart. He is not, perhaps, more amusing than 
Touchstone, to whom I bow profoundly in passing ; but I love him 

Whether Lear's Fool was not slightly touched in his wits is dis 
putable. Though Touchstone is both sane and wise, we sometimes 
wonder what would happen if he had to shift for himself. Here and 
there he is ridiculous as well as humorous ; we laugh at him, and not 
only with him. We never laugh at Feste. He would not dream of 
marrying Audrey. Nobody would hint that he was a ' natural ' or 
propose to * steal ' him (A. Y. L. 1. 1. ii. 52, 57 ; iii. 131). He is as sane 
as his mistress ; his position considered, he cannot be called even 
eccentric, scarcely even flighty ; and he possesses not only the ready 
wit required by his profession, and an intellectual agility greater than 
it requires, but also an insight into character and into practical situations 
so swift and sure that he seems to supply, in fuller measure than any of 
Shakespeare's other Fools, the poet's own comment on the story. He 
enters, and at once we know that Maria's secret is no secret to him. She 
warns him that he will be hanged for playing the truant. * Many a good 
hanging ', he replies, ' prevents a bad marriage ' ; and if Maria wants 

1 I mean the Fools proper, i. e. professional jesters attached to a court or house. In 
effect they are but four, Touchstone, Feste, Lavache in All 's Well, and Lear's Fool ; for it 
is not clear that Trinculo is the court-jester, and the Clown in Othello, like the Fool 
(a brothel-fool) in Timon, has but a trivial part. Neither humorists like Launce and 
Launcelot Gobbo, nor 'low' characters, unintentionally humorous, like the old peasant 
at the end of Antony and Cleopatra or the young shepherd called 'clown' in The 
Winter's Tale, are Fools proper. The distinction is quite clear, but it tends to be obscured 
for readers because the wider designation ' clown ' is applied to persons of either class in the 
few lists of Dramatis Personae printed in the Folio, in the complete lists of our modern 
editions, and also, alike in these editions and in the Folio, in stage-directions and in the 
headings of speeches. Such directions and headings were meant for the actors, and the 
principal comic man of the company doubtless played both Launce and Feste. Feste, 
I may observe, is called ' Clown ' in the stage-directions and speech-headings, but in the 
text always ' Fool '. Lear's Fool is ' Fool ' even in the former. 

A. C. BRADLEY 165 

an instance of a bad marriage, she soon gets it : ' Well, go thy way ; 
if Sir Toby would leave drinking, thou wert as witty a piece of Eve's 
flesh as any in Illyria.' (Gervinus, on the contrary, regarded this 
marriage as a judgement on Sir Toby ; but then Gervinus, though a 
most respectable critic, was no Fool.) Maria departs and Olivia enters. 
Her brother is dead, and she wears the deepest mourning and has 
announced her intention of going veiled and weeping her loss every 
day for seven years. But, in Feste's view, her state of mind would be 
rational only if she believed her brother's soul to be in hell ; and he 
does not conceal his opinion. The Duke comes next, and, as his manner 
ruffles Feste, the mirror of truth is held firmly before him too : * Now, 
the melancholy god protect thee, and the tailor make thy doublet of 
changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal.' In these encounters 
we admire the Fool's wisdom the more because it makes no impression 
on his antagonists, who regard it as mere foolery. And his occasional 
pregnant sayings and phrases meet the same fate. His assertion that he 
is the better for his foes and the worse for his friends the Duke takes 
for a mere absurdity or an inadvertence of expression, though he is 
tickled by Feste 's proof of his affirmation through double negation. 1 
The philosopher may speak to Sebastian of * this great lubber the 
world ' ; he may tell Viola how * foolery, sir, does walk about the orb 
like the sun ; it shines everywhere ' ; he may remark to the whole 
company how * the whirligig of time brings in his revenges ' ; but 
nobody heeds him. Why should any one heed a man who gets his living 
by talking nonsense, and who may be whipped if he displeases his 
employer ? 

All the agility of wit and fancy, all the penetration and wisdom, 
which Feste shows in his calling, would not by themselves explain our 
feeling for him. But his mind to him a kingdom is, and one full of 
such present joys that he finds contentment there. Outwardly he may 
be little better than a slave ; but Epictetus was a slave outright and 
yet absolutely free : and so is Feste. That world of quibbles which 
are pointless to his audience, of incongruities which nobody else can see, 

1 Feste's statement of his proot can hardly be called lucid, and his illustration 
(' conclusions to be as kisses, if your four negatives make your two affirmatives ') seems 
to have cost the commentators much fruitless labour. If anything definite was in the 
Fool's mind it may have been this. The gentleman asks for a kiss. The lady, denying it, 
exclaims 'No no no no.' But, as the first negative (an adjective) negates the second 
(a substantive), and the third in like manner the fourth, these four negatives yield two 
enthusiastic affirmatives, and the gentleman, thanks to the power of logic, gets twice what he 
asked for. This is not Feste's only gird at the wisdom of the schools. It has been gravely 
surmised that he was educated for the priesthood and, but for some escapade, would have 
played Sir Topas in earnest. 



of flitting fancies which he only cares to pursue, is his sunny realm. 
He is alone when he invents that aphorism of Quinapalus and builds 
his hopes on it ; and it was not merely to get sixpence from Sir Andrew 
that he told of Pigrogromitus and the Vapians passing the equinoctial 
of Queubus. He had often passed it in that company himself. Maria 
and Sir Toby (who do enjoy his more obvious jests) are present when, 
clothed in the curate's gown and beard, he befools the imprisoned 
Malvolio so gloriously ; but the prisoner is his only witness when, for 
his own sole delight, himself as Sir Topas converses with himself the 
Fool. But for this inward gaiety he could never have joined with all 
his heart in the roaring revelry of Sir Toby ; but he does not need this 
revelry, and, unlike Sir Toby and Sir Toby's surgeon, he remains 
master of his senses. Having thus a world of his own, and being lord 
of himself, he cares little for Fortune. His mistress may turn him away ; 
but, * to be turned away, let summer bear it out. 1 This * sunshine of 
the breast ' is always with him and spreads its radiance over the whole 
scene in which he moves. And so we love him. 

We have another reason. The Fool's voice is as melodious as the 
' sweet content ' of his soul. To think of him is to remember * Come 
away, come away, Death ', and * O Mistress mine ', and * When that I 
was ', and fragments of folk-song and ballad, and a catch that * makes 
the welkin dance indeed '. To think of Twelfth Night is to think of 
music. It opens with instrumental music and ends with a song. 
All Shakespeare's best praise of music, except the famous passage in 
The Merchant of Venice, occurs in it. And almost all the music and the 
praise of music come from Feste or have to do with Feste. In this he 
stands alone among Shakespeare's Fools ; and that this, with the in 
fluence it has on our feeling for him, was intended by the poet, should 
be plain. It is no accident that, when the Duke pays him for his * pains ' 
in singing, he answers, * No pains, sir ; I take pleasure in singing, sir ' ; 
that the revelry for which he risks punishment is a revelry of song ; 
that, when he is left alone, he still sings. And, all this being so, I venture 
to construe in the light of it what has seemed strange to me in the passage 
that follows the singing of * Come away '. Usually, when Feste receives 
his ' gratillity ', he promptly tries to get it doubled ; but here he not 
only abstains from any such effort but is short, if not disagreeably sharp, 
with the Duke. The fact is, he is offended, even disgusted ; and offended, 
not as Fool, but as music-lover and artist. We others know what the 
Duke said beforehand of the song, but Feste does not know it. Now he 
sings, and his soul is in the song. Yet, as the last note dies away, the 
comment he hears from this noble aesthete is, ' There 's for thy pains ' ! 

A. C. BRADLEY 167 

I have a last grace to notice in our wise, happy, melodious Fool. 
He was little injured by his calling. He speaks as he likes ; but 
from first to last, whether he is revelling or chopping logic] or playing 
with words, and to whomsoever he speaks or sings, he keeps his tongue 
free from obscenity. The fact is in accord with the spirit of this 
ever-blessed play, which could not have endured the * foul-mouthed ' 
Fool of All 's Welly and from which Aldis Wright in his school edition 
found, I think, but three lines (not the Fool's) to omit. But the trait is 
none the less characteristic of Feste, and we like him the better for it. 

It remains to look at another side of the whole matter. One is 
scarcely sorry for Touchstone, but one is very sorry for Feste, and pity, 
though not a painful pity, heightens our admiration and deepens our 
sympathy. The position of the professional jester we must needs feel 
to be more or less hard, if not of necessity degrading. In Feste 's case 
it is peculiarly hard. He is perfectly sane, and there is nothing to show 
that he is unfit for independence. In important respects he is, more 
than Shakespeare's other fools, superior in mind to his superiors in 
rank. And he has no Celia, no Countess, no Lear, to protect or love 
him. He had been Fool to Olivia's father, who * took much delight 
in him ' ; but Olivia, though not unkind, cannot be said to love him. 
We find him, on his first appearance, in disgrace and (if Maria is right) 
in danger of being punished or even turned away. His mistress, entering, 
tells him that he is a dry fool, that she'll no more of him, and (later) 
that his fooling grows old and people dislike it. Her displeasure, doubt 
less, has a cause, and it is transient, but her words are none the less signi 
ficant. Feste is a relic of the past. The steward, a person highly 
valued by his lady, is Feste 's enemy. Though Maria likes him and, 
within limits, would stand his friend, there is no tone of affection in 
her words to him, and certainly none in those of any other person. We 
cannot but feel very sorry for him. 

This peculiar position explains certain traits in Feste himself which 
might otherwise diminish our sympathy. One is that he himself, though 
he shows no serious malevolence even to his enemy, shows no affection 
for any one. His liking for Maria does not amount to fondness. He 
enjoys drinking and singing with Sir Toby, but despises his drunken 
ness and does not care for him. His attitude to strangers is decidedly 
cool, and he does not appear to be attracted even by Viola. The fact is, 
he recognizes very clearly that, as this world goes, a man whom nobody 
loves must look out for himself. Hence (this is the second trait) he is 
a shameless beggar, much the most so of Shakespeare's Fools. He is 
fully justified, and he begs so amusingly that we welcome his begging ; 


but shameless it is. But he is laying up treasures on earth against the 
day when some freak of his own, or some whim in his mistress, will 
bring his dismissal, and the short summer of his freedom will be followed 
by the wind and the rain. And so, finally, he is as careful as his love of 
fun will allow to keep clear of any really dangerous enterprise. He 
must join in the revel of the knights and the defiance of the steward ; 
but from the moment when Malvolio retires with a threat to Maria, and 
Maria begins to expound her plot against him, Feste keeps silence ; 
and, though she expressly assigns him a part in the conspiracy, he takes 
none. The plot succeeds magnificently, and Malvolio is shut up, chained 
as a lunatic, in a dark room ; and that comic genius Maria has a new 
scheme, which requires the active help of the Fool. But her words, 
* Nay, I prithee, put on this gown and this beard/ show that he objects ; 
and if his hesitation is momentary, it is not merely because the tempta 
tion is strong. For, after all, he runs but little risk, since Malvolio 
cannot see him, and he is a master in the management of his voice. And 
so, agreeing with Sir Toby's view that their sport cannot with safety 
be pursued to the upshot, after a while, when he is left alone with the 
steward, he takes steps to end it and consents, in his own voice, to pro 
vide the lunatic with light, pen, ink, and paper for his letter to Olivia. 
We are not offended by Feste 's eagerness for sixpences and his 
avoidance of risks. By helping us to realize the hardness of his lot, they 
add to our sympathy and make us admire the more the serenity and 
gaiety of his spirit. And at the close of the play these feelings reach 
their height. He is left alone ; for Lady Belch, no doubt, is by her 
husband's bed-side, and the thin-faced gull Sir Andrew has vanished, 
and the rich and noble lovers with all their attendants have streamed 
away to dream of the golden time to come, without a thought of the 
poor jester. There is no one to hear him sing ; but what does that 
matter ? He takes pleasure in singing. And a song comes into his 
head ; an old rude song about the stages of man's life, in each of which 
the rain rains every day ; a song at once cheerful and rueful, stoical and 
humorous ; and this suits his mood and he sings it. But, since he is 
even more of a philosopher than the author of the song, and since, after 
all, he is not merely a Fool but the actor who is playing that part in a 
theatre, he adds at the end a stanza of his own : 

A great while ago the world begun, 

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain; 
But that's all one, our play is done, 
And we'll strive to please you every day. 1 

1 Those who witnessed, some years ago, Mr. Granville Barker's production of 

A. C. BRADLEY 169 

Shakespeare himself, I feel sure, added that stanza to the old song ; 
and when he came to write King Lear he, I think, wrote yet another, 
which Feste might well have sung. To the immortal words, 

Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart 
That's sorry yet for thee, 

the Fool replies, 

He that has and a little tiny wit, 

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, 
Must make content with his fortunes fit, 

Though the rain it raineth every day. 

So Shakespeare brings the two Fools together ; and, whether or no he 
did this wittingly, I am equally grateful to him. But I cannot be grateful 
to those critics who see in Feste 's song only an illustration of the bad 
custom by which sometimes, when a play was finished, the clown 
remained, or appeared, on the stage to talk nonsense or to sing some 
old * trash * ; nor yet to those who tell us that it was * the players ' who 
tacked this particular * trash ' to the end of Twelfth Night. They may 
conceivably be right in perceiving no difference between the first four 
stanzas and the last, but they cannot possibly be right in failing to 
perceive how appropriate the song is to the singer, and how in the line 

But that 's all one, our play is done, 

he repeats an expression used a minute before in his last speech. 1 We 
owe these things, not to the players, but to that player in Shakespeare's 
company who was also a poet, to Shakespeare himself the same Shake 
speare who perhaps had hummed the old song, half-ruefully and half- 
cheerfully, to its accordant air, as he walked home alone to his lodging 
from the theatre or even from some noble's mansion ; he who, looking 
down from an immeasurable height on the mind of the public and the 
noble, had yet to be their servant and jester, and to depend upon their 
favour ; not wholly uncorrupted by this dependence, but yet superior 
to it and, also, determined, like Feste, to lay by the sixpences it brought 
him, until at last he could say the words, * Our revels now are ended/ 
and could break was it a magician's staff or a Fool's bauble ? 

Twelfth Night and Mr. Hay den Coffin's presentment ot the Fool's part must always 
remember them with great pleasure, and not least the singing of this song. 

1 ' I was one, sir, in this interlude ; one Sir Topas, sir ; but that 's all one' No edition 
that I have consulted notices the repetition. 







SHAKESPEARE in The Merchant of Venice, as elsewhere, unconsciously 
divined the germ of the myth on which his genius worked. Endless 
analogues are quoted for the two stories blended in the play ; and we 
know Shakespeare's debt to the Pecorone of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino 
and the rest. The legend, I feel sure, represents an early homilist's 
attempt to exemplify the two texts : * Greater love hath no man than 
this, that a man lay down his life for his friends/ and ' Christ also loved 
the church and gave himself for it '. The vivid exposition of these 
texts produced in due course the legend of * the Pound of Flesh ', 
and * the Wooing of the Lady '. Under the cover of a similitude 
a different allegory the texts are well expounded in the early English 
book known as The Nuns 9 Rule ; and the teacher there adds, in order to 
drive home the lesson, * Do not men account him a good friend who 
layeth his pledge in Jewry to release his companion ? God Almighty 
laid himself in Jewry for us,' &C. 1 

The older play on the subject, shown in London at the Bull before 
1580, may well have contained some abstract characters, linking it to the 
Morality drama. Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, starting as a study 
of usury, in its treatment of the theme gives glimpses of the suggested 
origin of the legend ; and the play is rightly named after the Merchant, 
whose part is one of simple dignity, and not after Shy lock, the predomi 
nant character of the play. Portia's great plea for mercy, epitomizing 
a whole Moral play, reveals, as it were, the inmost significance of the 
Lady of Belmont, as originally personifying the soul, or salvation, or the 
Church, and links her to the far-spread beautiful allegory of * The Four 
Daughters of God '. 2 

1 Ancren Riwle, ed. Morton (Camden Society), p. 394 ; the date of the book is 
about 1225. 

2 From this point of view it is interesting to recall such earlier plays as The Three 
Ladies of London, and The Three Lords and Three Ladies of London, by Robert Wilson. 


A contemporary of Shakespeare, Joseph Fletcher, saw something of 
this aspect of the play, in his poem, Christ's Bloodie Sweat, 1613 : 

He died indeed, not as an actor dies, 

To die today, and live again tomorrow, 

In shew to please the audience, or disguise 

The idle habit of inforced sorrow : 

The cross his stage was, and he played the part 
Of one that for his friend did pawn his heart. 

Various speculations have been hazarded as to the origin of the 
name * Shylock '. ' Caleb Shillocke, his prophecie,' often adduced, is 
later than the play ; and the suggested connexion with Scialac ' a 
Maronite of Mount Lebanon ' living in 1614, hardly commends itself 
to serious consideration, nor do the other theories propounded. 

Whether Shakespeare or his predecessor gave the name to the 
character cannot be absolutely determined ; but in view of the poet's 
careful choice of names, and especially of other names in the play, the 
inference points to him. 

The book which was read by Elizabethans for everything relating 
to the later Jewish history, and which went through edition after edition, 
was Peter Morwyng's translation of the pseudo-Josephus, * A com 
pendious and most marveylous History of the latter Times of the Jewes 
Commune Weale.' The influence of this book on Elizabethan literature 
would repay careful study. Malone already suggested that some lines 
in King John may well have been derived from Morwyng's * History ' : 

Do like the mutines of Jerusalem, 
Be friends awhile and both conjointly bend 
Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town. . . . 
That done, dissever your united strengths, 
And part your mingled colours once again. 1 

In Marlowe's Jew of Malta, and elsewhere in the plays of Eliza 
bethan dramatists, the influence of the book can be detected. 

Near the beginning of the * History ' we read : * About that time 
it was signified also to them of Jerusalem that the Askalonites had 
entered in friendship with the Romans. They sent therefore Neger 
the Edomite, and Schiloch the Babylonian, and Jehochanan, with a power 
of the common people ; these came to Askalon, and besieged it a great 
space. Within the town was a Roman captaine called Antonius,* a 
valiant man, and a good warrior.' This passage may well account for 
* Shylock ' ; and possibly also for * Antonio '. 

1 King John^ II. i. 378. 2 Elsewhere always ' Antonie'. 


The name of Marlowe's Jew of Malta, * Barabas,' is easily under 
stood. But why should * Shiloch ' be chosen for the Jew of Venice ? 
I am strongly inclined to explain the use of the name as due to the quite 
erroneous association of * Shiloch ' with * Shallach ', the Biblical Hebrew 
for ' cormorant ', the bird that ' swoops ', or dives after its prey. It came 
into the lists of biblical animals and into glossaries from Leviticus xi. 17 
where it is mentioned among the forbidden fowls * to be held in abomina 
tion '. In Elizabethan English * cormorant ' was an expressive synonym 
for ' usurer * ; and perhaps the best commentary on the use of the word 
may be drawn from John Taylor's Satires, entitled The Water-Cor 
morant his complaint against a brood of Land-Cormorants, published 
in 1622. The same mind that chose ' Jessica ', * Iscah the daughter 
of Haran ', and so well emphasized the supposed significance of the name 
as * she that looketh out ', and that created almost a special English idiom 
for Shy lock, evidently knew the peculiar force of the words * to bait 
fish withal', uttered by his Cormorant Usurer the Cormorant of 
a fictitious legend, having its starting-point in the attempt vividly 
to exemplify the biblical texts already quoted a legendary mon 
strosity fraught with all the greater possibilities inasmuch as at that 
time Jews were not yet permitted to reside in England, and there 
was still the traditional popular prejudice. From this point of view, 
the play must be considered in connexion with the considerable 
Elizabethan literature on Usury ; the question then at issue being 
whether, from religious as well as from moral and economic standpoints, 
Englishmen were justified in taking * usances ', often exorbitant as 
would appear from contemporary references. 

Shakespeare's humanity and understanding saved Shylock from 
being the mere Cormorant-monster. It is not enough to contrast him 
however favourably with his prototype * The Jew of Malta '. De 
spised, maddened by the sense of wrong, obsessed by the fixed idea of 
claiming his due at all costs, he has kinship with the type of tragic 
character best represented by Hieronimo, the wronged and demented 
father, who in The Spanish Tragedy madly achieves, at the cost of 
his very life, the vengeance on which he has set his whole jangled 

Lorenzo is Shakespeare's mouthpiece for the lesson of the play ; 
and it is enunciated by him to Shy lock's daughter, who was lost to 
her father more cruelly than was the slain Horatio to the distraught 
Hieronimo. Jessica, * she who looked out ' beyond her father's home, 
by her heartless defection goaded him to Hieronimo-like distraction. 


To her, the ' Juliet J of the play, this lesser Romeo expounds the 
lofty doctrine of mystic harmony : 

Such harmony is in immortal souls ; 
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. 


The question of the name * Polonius ' opens up a fascinating line 
of investigation, and it is many years ago since first my curiosity was 
whetted to discover why it was that Shakespeare deliberately changed 
the name of the character from * Corambis ', as it appears in the First 
Quarto, to * Polonius ' in the authorized version of Hamlet. Why the 
change, and what the origin and significance of the names ? The sub 
stitution of * Falstaff ' for * Oldcastle ' in Henry IV is abundant proof 
that such variations merit investigation. The name * Corambis ', or 
more correctly * Corambus ', the form found in the early German version 
of Fratricide Punished, and as a passing name in Shakespeare's All 's Well 
that Ends Well, is, I feel sure, the creation of the author of the pre- 
Shakespearian Hamlet, who, if Kyd, made a characteristic use of his 

* little Latin ' by cleverly re-Latinizing crambe (with its popular variant 
Crambo) used in contemporary English for twice-cooked cabbage, 
i.e. tedious and unpleasant iteration, with reference to the Latin phrase 
Crambe repetita (cp. Occidit miser os crambe repetita magistros). ' Cor- 
ambe ' and variants are found in Latin-English dictionaries of the 
period. * Corambis ' or * Corambus ', therefore, was merely, as it were, 

* old Crambo ', an excellent name for the inherent characteristic of the 
Counsellor, who in the original of the story, as told by Saxo Grammaticus 
in the Danish History, had exalted ideas of his own profound astuteness, 
for which he paid the heavy penalty. Evidently the possibilities of the 
character were effectively developed by the earlier dramatist ; and one 
may hazard the conjecture that the character was so set forth as to portray 
some marked characteristics of Elizabeth's aged Counsellor, the great 
statesman Burleigh, for whom contemporary men of letters had but 
scant reverence. Spenser's scorn of Burleigh in The Ruins of Time and 
Mother Hubbard's Tale, 1591, finds an echo in the writings of many a 
contemporary author : 

O griefe of griefes, 6 gall of all good heartes, 

To see that vertue should dispised bee, 

Of him, that first was raisde for vertuous parts, 


And now broad spreading like an aged tree, 
Lets none shoot up, that nigh him planted bee: 
O let the man, of whom the Muse is scorned, 
Nor aliue, nor dead be of the Muse adorned. 

We know that The Ruins of Time was * called in ', and that, when in 1611 
the First Folio of Spenser 's Poems (minus Mother HubbarcTs Tale, how 
ever) was published, the obnoxious passage was toned down, so as to be 
general and not specific in its application. 

Burleigh died in 1598 ; and his son Robert Cecil became one of the 
foremost men of the State. We may certainly assume that the change 
of name from * Corambis ' to * Polonius ' was made by Shakespeare 
soon after 1598 when he was still transforming the older play ; and that 
he was anxious to make it clear that his Counsellor (Second Quarto oddly 
reads * Counsel, as Polonius ') was not to be associated in the public 
mind with the earlier caricature of the great statesman who had gone 
to his rest. It is noteworthy that there are no very essential differences 
between the general utterances of Corambis in the First Quarto and those 
of Polonius in the Second Quarto ; and the inference would be either 
that Shakespeare in his early revision of the old play had taken over the 
name, or that the old popular name * Corambis ' was attached to the 
character, instead of * Polonius ', by the unauthorized purloiners 
answerable for the publication of the First Quarto. 

It is to be noted that one of the most popular books of its kind in 
England at this time, and famous throughout Europe a work somehow 
or other overlooked by previous investigators 1 was an exhaustive 
manual for counsellors and diplomatists, entitled De Optimo Senator e 
(Venice, 1568 ; Basle, 1593, &c.) by perhaps the greatest Polish states 
man of the age, Laurentius Grimalius Goslicius, Bishop of Posen. 
An English translation, entitled * The Counsellor', appeared in 1598, 
the very year that Burleigh died. Its long descriptive title sets forth 
the contents of the book : 

A golden work replenished with the chief learning of the most excellent philosophers 
and lawgivers, and not only profitable but very necessary for all those that be admitted to 
the administration of a well-governed Commonweal; written in Latin by Laurentius 
Grimaldus (stc)^ and consecrated to the honour of the Polonian Empire. 

Another English translation of a portion of the work is to be found in 
the British Museum. 2 But, apart from the English translation, the 

1 See summary of a paper read by me before the British Academy, April 27, 1904, 
Proceedings of British Academy \ vol. i. 

2 Add. MSS. 18613. 


original Latin was known in England ; as may be seen from a reference 
in Gabriel Harvey 's Pierces Supererogation (1593). The translation 
must, however, have done much to make the work generally known. 
We may feel sure that it was this translation that Shakespeare looked 
into, and, to the honour of the * Polonian ' name, dubbed the counsellor 
of the King of Denmark by a name which could only mean the Polonian, 
or the Pole. It is strange that this book, which was so famous, and which 
was re-issued and re-translated in different versions in the sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, seems altogether to have escaped 
notice in modern times, until some years back, when I hazarded the 
conjecture that here was to be found the solution of the problem of 
* Polonius '. At the time my critics asked for evidence (which I could 
not then adduce) of the alleged popularity of the work in question ; but 
since then I have been able from contemporary evidence to satisfy 
criticism on this point. A Polish historian of the time, secretary to 
King Stephen, addressing Goslicius in the preface to a work published 
in the year 1600, praises him for his literary achievements, and writing 
of course in Latin adds a special commendation in respect of his work 
De Optimo Senatore 'than which ', he says, * according to report, no work 
in England is more delighted in, or more thumbed ' : 

Unus ille de optimo Senatore liber tuus, quantam non modo tibi sed et cunctae genti 
nostrae conciliaverit gloriam, arbitror dubitare neminem, quum sincere quidam mihi dixerit, 
nullius libentius, quam ilium librum in Anglia teri in manibus hominum, de optimo senatore. 1 

There was a continued tradition in England concerning this work. 
In 1604, the year in which Grimalius died, a second edition appeared 
of the English translation, or, more likely, some copies of the old book 
with a new title-page. In 1660, there was published in English without 
the slightest indication of its being a translated work, the greater part 
of The Sage Senator, to which was ' annexed the new Models of Modern 
Policy, by J. G.' In 1733, Oldisworth, the political pamphleteer, issued 
an elaborate English translation, with a lengthy and enthusiastic, though 
inaccurate, introduction. In the Preface he states that in his work ' the 
Author has traced his Senator from the cradle to the School, and thence 
to the University, the Camp, the Bar, and the Bench of Justice. He has 
followed him in all his travels, and through every stage and period of 

1 I find the passage quoted in a small Latin dissertation on Goslicius, by Romanus 
Lopinski (Halle, 1872), p. 49. There is, of course, no idea on the part of the author that 
the quotation bore on this theory. In a lecture at the Royal Institution on February 26, 1914, 
the second of two lectures dealing with ' Hamlet in Legend and Drama ', I first called atten 
tion to this valuable corroboration, for which I had been long seeking. 


his private and public life, to his last and highest attainment as a 
Minister of State*. 

The Counsellor is in two Books ; at the end of Book I the 
author admits the possibility * of wearying the reader's mind and thereby 
becoming tedious '. * This is too long ' as Polonius observed with 
reference to the Player's Speech. 

A summary of the work is beyond the limits of a brief Note ; but 
a few passages may be quoted by way of illustration : 

1 1 do therefore think expedient that in the person ot our Counsellor there should be 
such ripeness of age as might exercise the virtues beseeming so honourable a personage, and 
in his calling hold so great a gravity and reputation as all other citizens and subjects may 
hope at his hand to receive comfort, quiet, and counsel profitable to the whole commonwealth. 1 

*Our Counsellor then, instructed in the precepts of Philosophy, shall not from thence 
forth be shut up, &c.' 

4 The Commonwealth therefore requireth the counsel of some notable and divine man, 
in whom it may repose the care of her happiness and well-doing. By his direction and 
government all perils, sedition, discords, mutations and inclinations may be suppressed, and 
thereby enjoy a happy peace and tranquility.' 

4 It behoveth him to be witty, docile, of good memory, of sound understanding, 
circumspect, provident, wary, and wily.' 

'Let the Counsellor know his own wit.' 

4 Our Counsellor should be circumspect, not only in those things which do happen 
privately, but also in every other that may be hurtful to the Commonwealth. 1 

Many other passages may be adduced showing how Counsellors 

... Of wisdom and of reach, 

With windlasses and with assays of bias, 

By indirections find directions out. 

But it is not merely to the words and character of Polonius that 
suggestive parallels may be found in this Manual. Some of the most 
striking chapters of the book are devoted to man as a creature endowed 
with reason, and some of the loftiest sentiments of Hamlet sound to me 
like echoes from passages in the work, notably the famous words : 

* What a piece of work is man ! how noble in reason ! how infinite in faculty ! in 
form and moving how express and admirable ! in action how like an angel ! in apprehension 
how like a god ! the beauty of the world ! the paragon of animals ! ' x 

With this speech of Hamlet, compare the following : 

' Among all creatures contained within the circle of the earth, that which we call man 
is the chiefest and of most reputation, for he alone of all other living things of what nature 

1 The First Quarto seems to give a garbled version of the lines as we have them in the 
Second Quarto. 



soever is made not only an inhabitant and citizen of the world, but also a lord and prince 


' Reason doth make men like unto God.' 

* The wise man by his virtue resembleth the likeness of God.' 

1 But what is that which in man is most excellent ? Surely Reason ! ' 

4 The chief duty of man is to know that his original proceedeth from God, and from 

Him to have received Reason, whereby he resembleth his Maker. But for that the Reason 

of man is shut up within the body as a prison whereby it knoweth not itself, it behoveth the 

mind to break forth from that place of restraint, and to win liberty.' 

Measure for Measure was written about the same time as Hamlet. 
It should be noted that a section of Grimalius's work was on the respon 
sibilities of the counsellor as judge, and some of the most striking 
passages in the book have reference to magistrates good and bad. * The 
evil example of magistrates works more ill than their virtues work good/ 
wrote Goslicius, and he amplifies the theme. Shakespeare, who had 
already, with lighter touch, portrayed vain and testy magistrates, now 
in Hamletian mood portrayed ' Angelo ' the Counsellor * most still, 
most secret, and most grave ' deputy of the Duke, whom he supposed 
travelled to Poland. The very spirit of Goslicius seems to speak through 
Shakespeare in the famous words : 

He who the sword of heaven will bear 
Should be as holy as severe. 


It is generally admitted that the * Befooling of Malvolio ' the 
comic interlude in Twelfth Night, or, What You Will is Shakespeare's 
own invention, grafted upon a romantic Italian love-story. ' Malevolti ' 
is the nearest form of the name discovered in the possible sources or 
analogies of the main plot ; ' Malvolio ' looks like a parallel to ' Ben- 
volio '. The character is obviously topical, as are also Sir Toby and 
Aguecheek. In view of the fondness of the Elizabethans, and Shake 
speare in particular, of playing upon * Will ', Malvolio may well stand for 
* 111 Will '. Nothing has been adduced against the theory hazarded by 
me some years ago that finds the original of Malvolio in Sir Ambrose 
Willoughby, Queen Elizabeth's Chief Sewer and Squire of the Presence, 
whose quarrel with the Earl of Southampton is referred to in a letter 
(printed in the Sydney Papers) from Rowland White, dated January, 

' The quarrel of my Lord Southampton to Ambrose Willoughby,' he wrote on 
January 21, 'grew upon this: that he with Sir Walter Raleigh and Mr. Parker being at 
primero in the Presence Chamber; the Queen was gone to bed, and he being there as 
Squire for the Body, desired them to give over. Soon after he spoke to them again, that 
if they would not leave he would call in the guard to pull down the board, which, 


Sir Walter Raleigh seeing 1 , put up his money and went his ways. But my Lord 
Southampton took exceptions at him, and told him he would remember it ; and so 
finding him between the Tennis Court wall and the garden shook him, and Willoughby 
pulled out some of his locks. The Queen gave Wiiloughby thanks for what he did in his 
Presence, and told him he had done better if he had sent him to the Porter's Lodge to see 
who durst have fetched him out.' 

The quarrel was evidently the occasion of much gossip. South 
ampton kept away from the court for a time, and found comfort in 
witnessing plays. What more likely than that his devotee Shakespeare 
should cleverly utilize the incident ? It would have been a congenial 
task to hit off on the stage the pretentious Squire of the Presence. The 
Fourth Scene of the Second Act of the play (' Do ye make an alehouse 
of my lady's house/ &c.) may well illustrate Shakespeare's manner of 
transforming the incident, without losing the essential traits which might 
make the caricature recognizable. 

If this theory of * Malvolio ' is correct, the original performance of 
the play points to Twelfth Night, 1599. The date generally assigned, 

* about 1600 ' to this and other comedies is, in my opinion, too late. 
Twelfth Night was evidently written before (not after) the tragic fall of 
Essex and Southampton. 

Ambrose Willoughby was the second son of Charles, Baron Wil 
loughby of Parham. As early as 1589 he is described in State Papers 

* as one of the Sewers of her Majesty's own table ' ; but in 1593 he 
received the life-appointment as Sewer an office previously held by 
Sir Henry Brooke alias Cobham, Sir Percival Hart, and Sir Edward 
Nevill. In June 1602 Willoughby had a violent quarrel with Grey 
Brydges (later Lord Chandos), and * was hurt in the head and body, for 
abusing his father and himself at a conference of arbitrement 'twixt them 
and Mistress Brydges', i.e. Elizabeth, Grey's first cousin, who claimed 
part of the family estates. Willoughby seems to have borne * ill-will ' 
towards Grey and his father, both of them friends of Essex, and to some 
extent implicated in the insurrection. The friends of Essex and South 
ampton would not regard with much favour Elizabeth's Squire of the 
Presence. On James's accession, when Southampton was set free, 
Willoughby was relieved of his office, surrendering it * voluntarily ' to 

* the King's beloved Servant Sir Thomas Penruddock '. 

The cumulative evidence seems fully to justify the claim that the 
passage in Rowland White's letter gives us the needful clue to the 
personality of * Malvolio ', and thus to the date of the composition of 
the play, as being before Twelfth Night, 1599, possibly with slight 
additions later. 


W. W. GREG 179 


THERE is a point in connexion with the players' play in Hamlet, 
which, if significant at all, has certainly not received from commentators 
the attention it deserves. The orthodox and obvious interpretation of 
the action is, of course, familiar. King Claudius, who has disposed of 
his brother and predecessor by the very peculiar device of pouring poison 
into his ears, is witnessing the performance of a play which Hamlet 
facetiously calls the * Mousetrap '. This reproduces in a remarkably 
complete manner the circumstances of his own crime, and when the 
critical moment arrives and he sees the most intimate details of his action 
represented before the assembled court, his nerve gives way and he 
rushes terror-stricken from the hall. It should be observed that his 
alarm must be ascribed solely to the action of the play, for the language 
is in no way significant. 

Now, this interpretation is open to a most serious objection. For 
the play itself is preceded by a dumb-show in which the whole action 
of the piece is minutely set forth. So far as the action is concerned, 
and it is the action alone that is significant, the play proper adds nothing 
new whatever. Consequently, on the assumptions usually made, either 
the King must have betrayed himself over the dumb-show, or there is 
no conceivable reason why he should betray himself at all. Incidentally 
I must point out that there is no getting rid of the dumb-show, for not 
only is the textual tradition unassailable, but the spectators are actually 
made to comment upon this unusual feature of the performance. 

So far as I can see there are only two possible lines for criticism to 
take. Either Shakespeare blundered badly in the crucial scene of the 
play, or else the orthodox interpretation is wrong. If the former, there 

1 Before the outbreak of war made unwonted claims on the activities of so many 
harmless students, I had drafted a somewhat elaborate study of the problem propounded in 
the present note. But the criticisms of various friends to whom I submitted it convinced 
me that my presentation of the case required considerable modification before it could be 
passed as even moderately satisfactory. Not having found time for the necessary revision, 
I take this opportunity for a bald statement of the problem, hoping in a happier future to 
return to the subject at greater length. 


is no more to be said : but if logic goes for anything in dramatic criticism, 
then it follows from the action of the scene that it is not the stage 
poisoning that upsets the King, and consequently that Claudius did 
not poison his brother in the manner represented. But this im 
mediately leads to a far more important conclusion. If the King did 
not murder his predecessor by pouring poison into his ears, then the 
account of the affair given by the Ghost to Hamlet is untrue, in other 
words the Ghost's narrative is not a revelation from the dead but 
a figment of Hamlet's brain. 

It will be obvious how important are the implications of this view 
and what difficulties are involved in its acceptance. I have not yet 
satisfied myself as to the exact nature of the implications or as to the 
exact extent of the difficulties, and I therefore put forward this note 
rather as a suggestion than as a formal proposition. On two cardinal 
points, however, I think I can indicate the direction in which a solution 
may be found. 

We have for one thing to account for the obvious fact that the King 
does actually interrupt the performance of the players at the very 
moment of the murder. To Hamlet this is, of course, proof positive 
of the truth of his suspicions ; but a careful examination of the scene 
will, I think, show that ample explanation of the King's action is afforded 
by the wild and menacing behaviour of Hamlet himself. Then there 
is the ghostly interview to be considered. Is this scene, upon the 
orthodox assumptions, so satisfactory as to make us reject any alterna 
tive ? Hardly : and to my mind an analysis of the Ghost's narrative 
supplies the very strongest and strangest confirmation of the theory here 
proposed. For it can, I believe, be shown that every point in the 
pretended revelation is but the reflection of something that we either 
know, or can reasonably infer, to be present in Hamlet's own mind 
including the minute and surprising details of the murder itself. 

W. W. GREG. 



ANOTHER ripe and ready for the boards ! 

Methinks it laughs with graciousness ; and yet 

Despite this ever-smiling Southwark face, 

The laughter is not mine, the conquering vein 

Still less ! albeit in both I please myself, 

And both bring profit in a tide that swells 

Above my wildest hopes. How had I hailed 

This flux of fortune in the distant days 

When, staggering 'neath his load, the old man groaned 

O'er vanishing repute and debts unpaid, 

And I could bring no succour ! 'Tis all changed : 

The wheel comes fair about ; but has not brought 

Oblivion of bitterness : even now 

He glooms and sickens, and my pen moves slow. 

Yet Anne is settled safe Anne and her girls 

Proud of her fine new house, the most perhaps 

Such husband could require ; and for the boy, 

He needs our care no longer. Had I cared 

While care might have availed vain, vain ! no more ! 

Could a man bridle his necessities, 

Tether and drive at will, there yet had been 

One to inherit this quick-coming wealth, 

And idle coat, whose getting spoiled a play, 

Flattered the father, mother son perchance ! 

But no ! while all men count me fortunate, 

I cannot taste my havings, still adrought 

'Mid flowing waters that assuage no thirst. 



And these my discontents admonish me 

That not the harvest but the husbandry 

Is life for me these taskmasters that urge 

My doubtful steps on paths untrodden yet, 

Perturbing thoughts, unanswered questionings, 

That speak of life as no illuminate page, 

Success, disaster, good and evil ways 

Sharply divided but a devious track 

Through dark and clear, that baffles prophecy 

And falsifies the forthright estimate ; 

Strange scene where Fortune flings the wretch her prize, 

And Good does acts that seem intolerable, 

And suffers, to a purpose. Where 's the book 

I fashioned, half from Kyd, and left for lack 

Of leisure ? I am minded now to inscribe 

Somewhat of these dim stirrings, or in that, 

Or in the Roman ; they are not unlike, 

Like with a difference. Nay, 'tis almost night ! 

Well, I will enter Night, disdaining Day 

With all her sunshine yields, and, wrestling there 

With haunting shadows that beset my peace, 

Find victory or defeat, and, after, rest, 

If rest be granted. Haply that dim coast 

Descried afar across this billowy waste 

Where strong souls struggle and founder, holds some life 

A man may grasp, more firm, more real than this ; 

And I may reach it. 

Boy, there ! hie thee quick 
To the Mitre, where a company of friends 
Expects me : say, I shall not come to-night. 




To praise Shakespeare it is only necessary to take up any one of 
the authentic plays and read it, but to praise him worthily it is necessary 
to be strict with him and with ourselves. Indiscriminate adulation has 
not only dishonoured many of his admirers, it has concealed and 
debased Shakespeare himself as the fine lines of woodwork are con 
cealed and debased by layers of paint. As to the play to be selected 
there will be many opinions. If I choose Antony and Cleopatra it is not 
because I find in it any character wholly sympathetic or admirable, 
but because in that play and in its persons I feel Shakespeare moving 
with most perfect mastery. In setting forth the story of a Hamlet, an 
Imogen, a Desdemona, or the life of some generation of historic England, 
he is certain of conquering us, because he has at least one point at which 
his force is overwhelming, his weapon heart-piercing : but in the alien 
life of the Imperial vices he must win at every turn or fail to carry us. 

The difficulties appear to be immense. The story is a great story, 
with all the prestige of ancient Rome and of the gorgeous East ; with 
the whole known world for its stage, and the masters of the world for 
its dramatis personae. Their qualities, good and bad, are such as can be 
judged by any one who has watched human nature, yet they are on a 
scale beyond our experience and must be shown not merely with clear 
ness and intensity but with the element of greatness added. To add 
this element of greatness, not only to one character, but to every character 
of importance in the play, and yet to keep the voices true throughout, 
would be hard for any writer, and perhaps especially hard, we might 
think, for Shakespeare. He was writing for a generation which loved 
poetry, eloquence, and sententiousness loved even conceits, florid 
metaphors, and bombast. We cannot for a moment imagine that a 
great artist could have been tempted to use these as aids external to his 
own intuition, mechanical tricks to heighten an effect. But to a certain 
extent he shared the tastes of his generation, and the question for us is 
this : how far, in a play where greatness of manner was demanded of 
him by his subject, did he preserve a tone which was not only true to 

N 2 


the ear of his own age, but remains true for us too and therefore probably 
for all time. 

I believe that the more attentively Antony and Cleopatra is read, 
the better it will be found to bring Shakespeare through this severe 
test. It is a long play, but I have found not more than a dozen places 
in it where a phrase disturbs the attention as irrelevant to the matter 
or inconsistent with the tone given throughout to the character speaking. 
Antony once mixes three metaphors : 

The hearts 

That spaniel'd me at heels, to whom I gave 
Their wishes, do discandy, melt their sweets 
On blossoming Caesar; and this pine is bark'd, 
That overtopp'd them all. 

But in a speech which is a torrent of energy this is hardly unnatural. 
Twice he is surprisingly elegant : * he wears the rose of youth upon him ' 
is an odd poetical phrase in a challenge, and odder still from a bluff 
general to his troops is 

This morning, like the spirit of a youth 
That means to be of note, begins betimes. 

The same inconsistency appears in the scene where Octavia weeps and 
Antony remarks to Caesar too ! * The April 's in her eyes . . . ', ending 
much more characteristically with an abrupt * Be cheerful '. Compared 
with the perfectly apt image of the * swan's down-feather ' which follows 
it, this * April ' shows as a mere conceit. But these are small cavils : if 
a serious charge were brought against the play it would be upon the use 
of magniloquence or bombast. It is undeniable that Antony, with all his 
splendid vitality and directness, is in several places irrelevantly given to 
words. When he exclaims in the supreme height of his impatience, 

Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch 
Of the rang'd empire fall ! Here is my space. 

he clogs the first phrase with the second and delays the flood of his 
anger. When he bids Eros unarm him, it is right enough that he should 
speak of the sevenfold shield of Ajax, and cry, * Bruised pieces, go ! ', 
but * O ! cleave, my sides ; Heart, once be stronger than thy continent, 
Crack thy frail case ! ' is unhappily thrust between. In each of these 
instances, as in others, an easy proof of the irrelevancy of the phrases 
complained of, is to read the passage as it would stand without them. It 
will, I think, be found to gain much by the omission. 

Four cases would, if I am right, be proved against Cleopatra : at 
the end of Act III it is difficult not to be thrown off by the forced image 


of the poison 'd hail to be engendered in her heart and thence dropped 
in her neck. The other three flaws all occur in the magnificent Scene xiii 
of Act IV. When her dying lord is carried in, Cleopatra's natural cry : 

O Antony, 
Antony, Antony! Help, Charmian! 

is unfortunately preceded by two lines of gigantesque apostrophe to 
the sun. Twenty lines later her very telling cry of distress at being too 
weak to lift the dying man is interrupted by the sonorous bit of learning 
about Juno, Mercury, and Jove : and in the next speech * the false 
housewife Fortune ' is still more false and unfortunate. To say this 
is to judge very strictly : but how can any standard be too high for 
a scene of such supreme word-magic a scene which contains Antony's 
speeches * I am dying, Egypt, dying . . . ', and * The miserable change 
now at my end . . . ', and Cleopatra's 

Well bury him ; and then what 's brave, what 's noble, 
Let's do it after the high Roman fashion, 
And make death proud to take us. 

It is very noteworthy that from this point to the end the play is by 
any standard faultless. In Act V there is one rhetorical passage, but it 
is a description of Antony, elaborated by the indignant queen to con 
found Dolabella, and it is entirely successful. In all the rest the vital 
energy of Cleopatra which has burned so irresistibly through the whole 
play, blazes out until it reaches the last splendour of her * immortal 
longings ', and her final * Peace, peace ! ' with the baby at her breast, 
* That sucks the nurse asleep '. 

The almost flawless truth of this play is then the measure of Shake 
speare's power. The story is not in itself beautiful : the characters 
are not beautiful nor even pitiful. Antony and Cleopatra are not young 
lovers : they have both been faithless in their time, they are each in 
sudden moments faithless to the other, and worse still, they wrongly 
judge each other by themselves. He is profligate and weak : she is 
cruel, vain, and full of guile. But they both have the quality which, 
for want of leisure to define it, I have called greatness : an elevation, 
an energy of the soul very rare among men, and to us very uplifting to 
contemplate. This greatness of theirs Shakespeare has been able to 
express for us, because he himself possessed it : by the mere outbreathing 
of it he created them. 




THE notices of Cawdor 's treason and punishment in Macbeth 
present some well-known difficulties. 

The first reference to him occurs when Ross, who has just arrived 
in hot haste from Fife, where the battle took place, announces (i. ii. 50) : 

Norway himself, 
With terrible numbers, 
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor, 
The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict. 

Duncan presently proceeds (i. ii. 63) : 

No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive 

Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death, 

And with his former title greet Macbeth. 

Accordingly, in the next scene (i. iii. 105) Ross and Angus meet Banquo 
and Macbeth on the heath, and tell the latter of his new dignity. He has 
already been perplexed at the witches' salutation (i. iii. 72) : 

How of Cawdor ? the Thane of Cawdor lives, 
A prosperous gentleman. 

And now he bursts out with the same incredulity (i. iii. 108) : 

The Thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me 
In borrow'd robes? 

Angus answers (i. iii. 109) : 

Who was the thane lives yet; 
But under heavy judgement bears that life 
Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined 
With those of Norway, or did line the rebel 
With hidden help and vantage, or that with both 
He laboured in his country's wreck, I know not: 
But treasons capital, confess'd and proved, 
Have overthrown him. 

Finally we hear of the culprit's death. Duncan asks (i. iv. i) : 

Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not 
Those in commission yet return'd? 

M. W. MAcCALLUM 187 

Malcolm replies (i. iv. 2) : 

My liege, 

They are not yet come back. But I have spoke 
With one that saw him die; who did report 
That very frankly he confess'd his treasons, 
Implored your highness' pardon, and set forth 
A deep repentance. 

Now it is undoubtedly odd that if Cawdor helped Norway, Ross 
should know of it while Macbeth did not : it is also odd that after 
Ross's definite statement, Angus should be doubtful whether Cawdor 
had helped Macdonwald, Norway, or both ; and finally it is odd that 
Angus, who has accompanied Ross on his mission, should be able to 
speak of Cawdor's treasons as * confess'd and proved ', when we are 
afterwards told that the traitor made his penitential confession imme 
diately before his execution. 

The different statements certainly do not at the first glance fit into 
each other ; still, a little consideration will show that they involve no 
radical contradiction, but only need to be expanded, and perhaps 

So much is evident, that Cawdor had kept his disloyalty secret. 
Even Angus speaks of the * hidden help and vantage ' he afforded, and 
at the very moment when Ross, with haste looking through his eyes, 
tells of Cawdor 's supporting Norway he is in close proximity to the 
king, who can order his immediate execution. He may have remained 
at court all the time, keeping up appearances as long as he could and 
conducting his plots through agents. At any rate, since he did not 
appear openly in the matter, it is not wonderful that Macbeth should 
be ignorant of his treachery ; it is only strange that Ross should know 
of it. But after all he might hear rumours during his ride from Fife to 
Forres. Whence could these rumours come ? Possibly from informa 
tion leaking out about the proceedings taken against Cawdor at court, 
the admissions of the accused, and the incriminating evidence. For 
surely it is implied that he has been on trial before Duncan commands 
or sanctions his execution. The king's words seem to confirm a sen 
tence that has come as the conclusion of a legal examination : ' Go 
pronounce his present death.' That would be gross tyranny if its 
sole ground were the unsupported statement of Ross, and if Cawdor 's 
guilt had not previously been investigated : and such tyranny would 
be peculiarly incongruous with the character of the king, who 


afterwards receives Macbeth 's testimony to his gentleness and justice 
(l. vii. 16), 

This Duncan 

Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been 
So clear in his great office. 

It is far more probable that the king at last resolves to act on the finding 
of the commission, that is presently referred to in connexion with the 
execution and that, we may suppose, has been inquiring into the case. 
That * very frankly he confessed his treasons * on the eve of death when 
solemnly setting forth his final penitence and regrets, need not mean 
that Cawdor had made no admissions before, when his offences were 
brought home to him at the trial, and that therefore Angus could not 
speak of his * treasons capital, confessed and proved '. 

There remains only the difficulty that Ross definitely mentions 
Cawdor 's help of Norway, while Angus is afterwards doubtful whether 
he was helping Norway, Macdonwald, or both ; but that may be due 
to a difference in the reports they have heard, or to a greater or less 
hastiness of belief in themselves. Certainly at a later date Ross shows 
himself rather credulous in regard to chance hearsay ; for after Duncan's 
murder, when Macduff tells him that the flight of Malcolm and Donal- 
bain (n. iv. 26) : 

puts upon them 
Suspicion of the deed. 

he accepts the suspicion as proven fact without a moment's hesitation 
(ii. iv. 27) : 

'Gainst nature still! 
Thriftless ambition, that will ravin up 
Thine own life's means! 

It is therefore not out of character at least that he should adopt without 
criticism the first version of Cawdor 's practices that strikes him or comes 
to his ears, while Angus takes into account various possible alternatives. 
If, then, we piece out the fragmentary story in the above or some 
such way, we find no absolute discrepancies in it, though a good deal 
that wants explanation. That being so, two of the hypotheses to 
account for the apparent difficulties lose their force. It is unnecessary 
to suppose with some that Shakespeare, having antedated the Cawdor 
episode, which in Holinshed follows considerably later, forgot the 
bearings of his own alteration. It is also unnecessary to assume with 
others the intervention of an editor who distorted the original plan of 

M. W. MAcCALLUM 189 

the play. The third hypothesis, that the existing version is an abridge 
ment for stage purposes, and that the obscurity arises from the omission 
of explanatory passages or scenes, is to a certain extent confirmed. Even 
in regard to it, however, it should be remembered that the incident is 
a very subordinate one, and that Shakespeare, while having a complete 
and consistent picture of it in his own mind, may well have considered 
it sufficient to convey it only in isolated jottings. 





IN that piece of subtle psychology and eloquent English, On the 
Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth, De Quincey tells us that from his 
boyish days he had been puzzled to account for the fact that the knocking 
at the gates * reflected back upon the murderer a peculiar awfulness and 
a depth of solemnity '. His understanding said positively that it could 
not produce any effect ; but in spite of his understanding he felt that it 
did. The Williams murders in 1812 gave him the key to the explana 
tion ; for then the very same incident of a knocking occurred after the 
murder of the Marrs. De Quincey 's explanation is that the marvellous 
effect of the terrific murder scene depends upon a contrast between the 
normal human nature, * the divine nature of love and mercy ', and the 
fiendish nature of the two murderers. The dialogues and soliloquies 
convey the sense that the human nature has vanished and the fiendish 
nature has taken its place ; and the effect is finally consummated by 
the knocking at the gate ; for then * the world of darkness passes away 
like a pageantry in the clouds ', and the human makes its reflux upon the 
fiendish. It is at the meeting-point of the two worlds that the contrast 
between them is sharpest. 

The question whether Shakespeare took the hint of his great scene 
from some real incident such as that which occurred in the murder of 
the Marrs, or invented it himself, is unimportant as well as insoluble. 
He has made the incident and the principle upon which it rests for ever 
his own ; for if De Quincey afterwards found the explanation he was 
led to it by the light which Shakespeare supplied. My purpose is not 
to discuss whether Shakespeare was guided to his principle by some 
specific experience, or reached it through the exercise of his own facul 
ties, but simply to illustrate by further examples the truth which was 
revealed to De Quincey by the crimes of Williams. 

Since these illuminating crimes at least two very striking incidents 
have occurred to attest the keenness of Shakespeare's insight and the 
soundness of De Quincey's interpretation. In one case it fortunately 


happened that a poet, though a poet who was still only a small schoolboy, 
was present. In A Lark's Flight, perhaps the finest essay in that fine 
volume Dreamthorp, Alexander Smith relates the story of an execution 
at Glasgow for a murder which was committed about thirty years after 
the Williams murders. The essayist skilfully groups the incidents of 
his story the heedless play of the happy little boys and girls on the 
evening preceding the execution, its sudden interruption by the arrival 
of the materials for the scaffold (it was, of course, the day of public 
executions), the marshalling of the little army of horse, foot, and artillery 
to overawe the disorderly, and the procession of the two doomed Irish 
navvies through the sunshine of a May morning. Around the scaffold 
the soldiers had kept clear a wide space on which the young wheat was 
springing, and just when the men appeared beneath the beam * the 
incident, so simple, so natural, so much in the ordinary course of things, 
and yet so frightful in its tragic suggestions, took place '. The hush of 
awe had fallen upon the crowd. * Just then, out of the grassy space 
at the foot of the scaffold, in the dead silence audible to all, a lark rose 
from the side of its nest, and went singing upward in its happy flight. 
O heaven ! how did that song translate itself into dying ears ? Did it bring 
in one wild burning moment father, and mother, and poor Irish cabin, 
and prayers said at bed-time, and the smell of turf fires, and innocent 
sweet-hearting, and rising and setting suns ? Did it but the dragoon's 
horse has become restive, and his brass helmet bobs up and down and 
blots everything, and there is a sharp sound ; and I feel the great crowd 
heave and swing, and hear it torn by a sharp shiver of pity, and the men 
whom I saw so near but a moment ago are at immeasurable distance, 
and have solved the great enigma, and the lark has not yet finished 
his flight ; you can see and hear him yonder in the fringe of a white 
May cloud/ 

Simple, natural, in the ordinary course of things, yet frightful 
indeed in its tragic suggestions ! As simple as the knocking at the gate, 
and not so much inferior in its tragic suggestions ; for, in face of * the 
great enigma ', what is the difference between the blood-stained King of 
Scotland and the blood-stained Irish navvy ? Here surely is independent 
evidence to the keenness of Shakespeare's insight and the soundness 
of De Quincey's interpretation. Yet the knocking at the gate never 
occurred to Smith. He goes on to give illustrations of the principle 
of contrast ; illustrations from history and from literature ; but not 
that which is the most remarkable of all. 

A century has passed since the murders which so profoundly 


impressed De Quincey ; a crime is being enacted whose crimson horror 
makes the Williams murders pale ; and once more we find that the 
simplest incident in nature suffices to throw into startling relief its 
horror and its guilt. In letters from the trenches men betray their sense 
of it, never suspecting that they are under the sway of a principle which 
it took the greatest of poets to discover, and one of the greatest of critics 
to interpret. 

* The weather for the last week has been gorgeous. It seems such 
a waste of time trying to kill other people when the sun is so nice and 
friendly/ wrote one man last September. He was making no effort to 
be literary, and the simplicity of his language makes him all the more 
impressive. The sun is * so nice and friendly ' and man, when the 
human nature is utterly withdrawn, is so devilish. Last spring a group 
of men were found in a trench with tears running down their cheeks. 
There was no apparent cause, and when the discoverer asked an explana 
tion he was told that it was because, in the intervals of the crash of 
artillery, the men could hear the birds singing in the bushes. The 
note of spring joy, in contrast with the awful tragedy around, overcame 
them. These men were not poets, like Alexander Smith, but they 
needed only to be human in order to feel, like him, the frightful tragic 
suggestions of the contrast between the sun * so nice and friendly ' and 
the song-bird on the one hand, and, on the other, the reign of murder 
and sudden death around them. They were not, like Shakespeare, 
profound psychologists, but for that very reason their instinctive 
response to the stimulus which he knew would best bring home to the 
onlooker the nature of the deed is all the more instructive. And there 
may be other criminals besides Macbeth sighing out from the sorely 
charged heart, in response to something just as simple, their 

Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst! 


J. W. MACKAIL 193 


IN the portraiture of Cloten in this play has been noted, at least as 
far back as Johnson, what seems a perplexing inconsistency. Repre 
sented as ' an arrogant piece of flesh ', * a brutal and brainless fool ', he 
is yet spoken of by his step-father in terms of warm regard, and at the 
beginning of the scene with the Roman ambassador he appears to acquit 
himself not only with credit, but with ability. The high eloquence of 

There be many Caesars 
Ere such another Julius. Britain is 
A world by itself 

is not the language of * an ass ',' a thing too bad for bad report ', one 
who * cannot take two from twenty, for his heart, and leave eighteen '. 

It would be going too far to say of Shakespeare, as Shakespeare 
once incautiously said of Julius Caesar himself, that he * did never 
wrong but with just cause '. But very often things in Shakespeare that 
we stumble at would be quite clear if we took more pains to realize 
them in their setting and context. We are too apt to read detachedly, 
and thus to miss the dramatic value of speeches, their relevance to the 
dramatic interplay of will and character. It is essential not to treat any 
single figure in the plays, or any single thing said, as isolated. 

The queen, Cloten 's mother, is * a woman that bears all down 
with her brain '. She has won her position by no sensuous arts of 
allurement, but by sheer capacity and adroitness. Cymbeline has grown 
to lean on her. He turns habitually to her for good advice ; and he 
gets it from her, in no less measure than he gets from her attention, 
deference, and all the outward show of affection. She, on her side, 
does not care for him at all ; her mind is wholly fixed, not on personal 
ambition, but on the advancement of her son. Far too clever herself not 
to realize how coarse-fibred and stupid Cloten is, she sets herself with 
infinite skill and patience to cover his deficiencies and gloss over his want 
of manners as well as of sense and decency. She succeeds in imposing 
him on her husband, though not on the court generally : * the sole son 


of my queen ', ' our dear son ', is honestly thought by Cymbeline, under 
her influence, to be a useful and even necessary adviser in matters of 
state. She is always close at hand to coach and prompt Cloten, to 
excuse or explain away his blunders and vicious habits, to represent 
her own ability and foresight as his. She is a perfect mother, much as 
Lady Macbeth is a perfect wife. To her, Cloten is not wholly un 
amenable, and he has a sort of animal affection for her apart from the 
dominance of a strong and subtle over a weak and coarse mind. So long 
as she can keep beside or close behind him she can guide him fairly 
straight, though this requires perpetual and unrelaxing vigilance ; but 
the moment her hand is withdrawn, he shows himself the fool and 
brute that he is. 

If we look at the scene with the Roman ambassador in this light, 
it ceases to be a perplexity. The queen has prepared a speech for her 
son with elaborate care, such as, though wholly beyond his capacity, 
is not too obviously out of keeping with his temperament. She has 
made him learn it by heart, and is ready to give him his cue. When 
the time comes, she gives it, in the words 

And, to kill the marvel, 
Shall be so ever. 

Cloten takes it up : 

There be many Caesars 
Ere such another Julius. Britain is 
A world by itself. 

But then, in his self-complacent folly, he strikes off into language of 
his own, such as we have already heard him use with the two lords : 

And we will nothing pay 
For wearing our own noses. 

His mother, prepared for something of the kind, swiftly and adroitly 
breaks in before he has made a complete fool of himself in public. His 
own way (we see it throughout the scenes in which he appears) is to get 
some senseless phrase or childish misconception (like * his meanest 
garment ' in the scene with Imogen) into his head, and go on fatuously 
repeating it. She picks up what she had told him to say, and goes on 
with it herself : 

That opportunity, 

Which then they had to take from 's, to resume 
We have again: 

continuing with some twenty lines of real if slightly turgid eloquence. 
But Cloten is intoxicated with his own importance on so great an occa- 

J. W. MACKAIL 195 

sion, and will not be lightly silenced, especially as he has not yet made 
the most of Caesar's nose. At her first pause, he breaks in : 

Come, there 's no more tribute to be paid. Our kingdom is stronger than it was at 
that time ; and, as I said, there is no more such Caesars ; other of them may have 
crooked noses, but to owe such straight arms, none. 

This is all his own, and he is delighted with it. Cymbeline is affronted 
and shocked. * Son, let your mother end,' he says sharply. But Cloten 
is in full cry, and plunges on : 

We have yet many among us can gripe as hard as Cassibelan ; I do not say I am 
one, but I have a hand. Why tribute ? why should we pay tribute ? If Caesar can 
hide the sun from us with a blanket, or put the moon in his pocket, we will pay him 
tribute for light ; else, sir, no more tribute, pray you now. 

The queen is too much upset and mortified to intervene again ; but 
Cymbeline now takes matters into his own hands. In the subsequent 
parting scene with the ambassador, Cloten has clearly had instruc 
tions to hold his tongue. His share in the conversation is confined 
to one short sentence, in which he does not discredit himself. With 
all his arrogance and folly, he is not without a certain rough good 
humour when things are going to his mind and he is not crossed. Not 
until, after Lucius has left, the news of Imogen's flight is brought, does 
he relapse into his customary brutality. 

After this scene the queen does not appear again. In his supreme 
act of self-originated blundering, Cloten goes off on his fool's errand 
to Milford alone, without telling his mother, and there comes by his 
death. The next we hear of her is that she is dangerously ill ; 

A fever with the absence of her son, 

A madness, of which her life 's in danger. 

Cloten 's disappearance has shattered her spider's web of crime and 
cunning. For his sake she had staked everything. She had, as she 
thought, disposed of Pisanio by poison. She had made up her mind 
that Imogen, * except she bend her humour ', shall taste of the drug too. 
According to her own hysterical death-bed confession if it is to be 
believed she was preparing a * mortal mineral ' to make away with 
Cymbeline himself when once she had * worked her son into the adoption 
of the crown '. Her son vanished ; all this fabric of ingenious patient 
crime went to wreckage : and the tigress-mother 

Failing of her end by his strange absence, 
Grew shameless-desperate ; open'd, in despite 
Of heaven and men, her purposes ; repented 
The evils she hatch'd were not effected: so, 
Despairing, died. 


* That irregulous devil ', Imogen calls Cloten in her agony. ' O delicate 
fiend ! ' Cymbeline exclaims of the queen when the truth comes out. 
For Cloten 's brainless devilry the end was certain ; for * it is the fools 
who are paid first '. It is poetical justice, but it is also true to life. 
But still more deeply true to life is the tragic irony of his mother's 
more miserable end. She perishes, not because of her many crimes, 
but because of her one virtue ; not because her own craft and adroitness 
failed, but because the only creature whom she loved failed her. One 
can fancy, if they rejoined in the underworld, that her thoughts and 
plans would still be for him, and that they would still come to the same 
shipwreck. Her punishment for being a fiend was to have borne 
a fool. 


A. C. BENSON 197 

THE character and figure of Ariel has always appeared to me one of 
the most strangely typical of Shakespeare's inventions, a creature at 
first carelessly and lightly conceived, a useful fairy, with all the virtues of 
an Orderly ! But Ariel takes shape and grows under the writer's hand, 
becoming more and more distinct, a separate problem, a perfect creation, 
gradually embodied and realized in the few score of lines devoted to the 
fantastic and sexless little being. 

At first sight Ariel is a mere reflection of his master, with a taste 
for high-piled phrases, such as on Prospero's lips sound loftily enough ; 
but when Ariel indulges in them are like the bombastic parody of a child 
mimicking its elders. 

Jove's lightnings, the precursors 
O' the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary 
And sight-outrunning were not; the fire, and cracks 
Of sulphurous roaring, the most mighty Neptune 
Seem'd to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble, 
Yea, his dread trident shake. 

This is dull rhetoric at best ! 

But then it seems that Ariel emerges more clearly from the haze 
of the mind ; and is it not characteristic of Shakespeare that he does not 
return and revise, but lets the whole conception stand on the page, just 
as it was set down ? That is not unlike Shakespeare, to say a thing, to 
remould it better, and yet again better, and to leave it all written, exactly 
as it grew up. 

There comes the scene when Ariel shows a childlike petulance, 
followed by a childlike repentance ; and at that point, I believe, the 
delicate-limbed beautiful creature sprang out in Shakespeare's mind. It 
is difficult to resist a movement of indignation when Prospero, like 
a cross-grained old schoolmaster, browbeats the pretty creature, who 
stands before him pouting, methinks, nibbling a rosy thumb, answering 
in monosyllables, and glad like a pet dog when the scolding is over. 

How now ? moody ? 
What is't thou canst demand? 


To which menace says Ariel, looking up blue-eyed, with palms pressed 

My liberty! 

And what could be more childlike, when he has promised to be good, 
than the pretty touch of eagerness ? 

What shall I do? Say what. What shall I do? 

When the scolding begins he is * malignant thing ', * dull thing '. As 
Prospero 's mood changes, he becomes * quaint ', and then, as the play 
goes on, he becomes * my bird ', * my chick ' ; and even the little caged 
much-labouring, much-enduring spirit wants a tender word : 

Do you love me master? No? 

Three of Shakespeare's loveliest lyrics, * Come unto these yellow sands/ 
* Full fathom five,' ' Where the bee sucks ' (it is refreshing even to 
set down their titles !), are put into Ariel's mouth, to show how his 
maker loves the delicate spirit three lyrics, of which I can only say 
that the more poetry I have read, and even written, the more wholly 
inconceivable to me is the process by which such strange and beautiful 
imagery is built up. Yet even so there is a touch of weakness in the 
sequel of the first : 

The strains of strutting chanticleer 
Cry Cock-a-diddle-dow. 

But * Full fathom five ' is indeed no mortal business ! Could an ugly 
thing be so transfigured into a beautiful mystery more speedily ? While 
in * Where the bee sucks ', the whole heart of Ariel, the passionless joy 
of nature, asking nothing but a sweet continuance, is presented free of 
all stain of human emotion or regret ! 

Three other touches in the Ariel episode have a special interest. 
The curious touch of coarseness which I confess seems to me a real 
blunder, if it were not Shakespeare's blunder, about the stench of the 
foul pool into which the roysterers had been led ; then again the passage 
in which Ariel pleads for pity on the courtiers in their sorrow, 

That if you now beheld them, your affections 
Would become tender. 

4 Dost thou think so, spirit ? ' says Prospero, surprised. 
1 Mine would, sir, were I human,' says Ariel, and Prospero replies, 
4 And mine shall.' 

I suppose the incident is devised to shame the Sage out of his 

A. C. BENSON 199 

extreme severity, and it leads to a fine speech from Prospero, of which 
the drift is * the rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance '. A moral 
device, I am not sure whether justified ! 

And, lastly, there is the scene where Ariel again takes on the manner 
of his master, and tells the conspirators, in an imposing strain, that 
nothing can save them from their sin, * nothing but heart-sorrow, and 
a clear life ensuing '. That we may be sure is no idea of Ariers own, 
but just a punctual and sympathetic imagination of the dignified sort 
in which his master would have lectured them. 

But now Ariel is free at last. He has but to speed the homeward 
sails ; 

Then to the elements ! 
Be free, and fare thou well. 

He is to be free * as mountain winds ' ; and by that single touch Shake 
speare brings to mind a wide vision of breezes wandering in sun-warmed 
silent hill-spaces, where the sheep crop the grass, and the bee hums 
among the heather. That is Ariers reward. And in this the art of the 
whole conception rises into a mood that few can attain, by presenting 
the wild impulse of the human heart, in a moment of anguish, to be free 
from, everything alike, not only from suffering and sorrow, but from 
passion and emotion, enrapturing as they may seem, as well as even from 
righteousness and judgement. To be sinless, not by victory and hard- 
won triumph, but by soaring away from the whole stern and fiery strife 
of motive and desire, and forgetting that such things have ever been. 



O 2 



'But whence came the vision of the enchanted island in The Tempest} It had no 
existence in Shakespeare's world, but was woven out of such stuff as dreams are made of.' 

From ' Landscape and Literature ', Spectator, June 18, I898. 1 

MAY I cite Malone's suggestion connecting the play with the casting 
away of Sir George Somers on the island of Bermuda in 1609 ; and, 
further, may I be allowed to say how it seems to me possible that the 
vision was woven from the most prosaic material from nothing more 
promising, in fact, than the chatter of a half -tipsy sailor at a theatre ? 

A stage-manager, who writes and vamps plays, moving among his 
audience, overhears a mariner discoursing to his neighbour of a grievous 
wreck, and of the behaviour of the passengers, for whom all sailors have 
ever entertained a natural contempt. He describes, with the wealth of 
detail peculiar to sailors, measures taken to claw the ship off a lee-shore, 
how helm and sails were worked, what the passengers did, and what he 
said. One pungent phrase to be rendered later into : * What care 
these brawlers for the name of King ? ' strikes the manager's ear, and 
he stands behind the talkers. Perhaps only one-tenth of the earnestly 
delivered, hand-on-shoulder sea- talk was actually used of all that was 
automatically and unconsciously stored by the inland man who knew 
all inland arts and crafts. Nor is it too fanciful to imagine a half- turn 
to the second listener, as the mariner, banning his luck as mariners will, 
says there are those who would not give a doit to a poor man while they 
will lay out ten to see a raree-show a dead Indian. Were he in 
foreign parts, as now he is in England, he could show people something 
in the way of strange fish. Is it to consider too curiously to see a drink 
ensue on this hint (the manager dealt but little in his plays with the sea 
at first-hand, and his instinct for new words would have been waked 
by what he had already caught), and with the drink a sailor's minute 
description of how he went across through the reefs to the island of his 

1 The reply to this statement, here reprinted, appeared in The Spectator , in the form 
of a letter, on July 2, i r 


calamity or islands rather, for there were many? Some you could 
almost carry away in your pocket. They were sown broadcast like 
like the nutshells on the stage there. * Many islands, in truth/ says 
the manager patiently, and afterwards his Sebastian says to Antonio : 
' I think he will carry the island home in his pocket and give it to his son 
for an apple.' To which Antonio answers : * And sowing the kernels 
of it in the sea, bring forth more islands.' 

' But what was the land like ? ' says the manager. The sailor tries 
to explain. * It was green, with yellow in it ; a tawny-coloured coun 
try ' the colour, that is to say, of the coral-beached, cedar-covered 
Bermuda of to-day * and the air made one sleepy, and the place was 
full of noises ' the muttering and roaring of the sea among the islands 
and between the reefs ' and there was a sou '-west wind that blistered 
one all over '. The Elizabethan mariner would not distinguish finely 
between blisters and prickly heat ; but the Bermudian of to-day will 
tell you that the sou '-west, or lighthouse, wind in summer brings that 
plague and general discomfort. That the coral rock, battered by the 
sea, rings hollow with strange sounds, answered by the winds in the 
little cramped valleys, is a matter of common knowledge. 

The man, refreshed with more drink, then describes the geography 
of his landing-place the spot where Trinculo makes his first appear 
ance. He insists and reinsists on details which to him at one time 
meant life or death, and the manager follows attentively. He can give 
his audience no more than a few hangings and a placard for scenery, 
but that his lines shall lift them beyond that bare show to the place he 
would have them, the manager needs for himself the clearest possible 
understanding the most ample detail. He must see the scene in the 
round solid ere he peoples it. Much, doubtless, he discarded, but 
so closely did he keep to his original informations that those who go 
to-day to a certain beach some two miles from Hamilton will find the 
stage set for Act II, Sc. ii, of The Tempest a bare beach, with the wind 
singing through the scrub at the land's edge, a gap in the reefs wide 
enough for the passage of Stephano's butt of sack, and (these eyes have 
seen it) a cave in the coral within easy reach of the tide, whereto such 
a butt might be conveniently rolled (' My cellar is in a rock by the sea 
side, where my wine is hid '). There is no other cave for some two miles. 
* Here's neither bush nor shrub ; ' one is exposed to the wrath of * yond' 
same black cloud ', and here the currents strand wreckage. It was so 
well done that, after three hundred years, a stray tripper, and no Shake 
speare scholar, recognized in a flash that old first set of all. 


So far good. Up to this point the manager has gained little except 
some suggestions for an opening scene, and some notion of an uncanny 
island. The mariner (one cannot believe that Shakespeare was mean 
in these little things) is dipping to a deeper drunkenness. Suddenly 
he launches into a preposterous tale of himself and his fellows, flung 
ashore, separated from their officers, horribly afraid of the devil-haunted 
beach of noises, with their heads full of the fumes of broached liquor. 
One castaway was found hiding under the ribs of a dead whale which 
smelt abominably. They hauled him out by the legs he mistook them 
for imps and gave him drink. And now, discipline being melted, they 
would strike out for themselves, defy their officers, and take possession 
of the island. The narrator's mates in this enterprise were probably 
described as fools. He was the only sober man in the company. 

So they went inland, faring badly as they staggered up and down 
this pestilent country. They were pricked with palmettoes, and the 
cedar branches rasped their faces. Then they found and stole some of 
their officers' clothes which were hanging up to dry. But presently 
they fell into a swamp, and, what was worse, into the hands of their 
officers ; and the great expedition ended in muck and mire. Truly an 
island bewitched. Else why their cramps and sickness ? Sack never 
made a man more than reasonably drunk. He was prepared to answer 
for unlimited sack ; but what befell his stomach and head was the purest 
magic that honest man ever met. 

A drunken sailor of to-day wandering about Bermuda would prob 
ably sympathize with him ; and to-day, as then, if one takes the easiest 
inland road from Trinculo's beach, near Hamilton, the path that a 
drunken man would infallibly follow, it ends abruptly in swamp. The 
one point that our mariner did not dwell upon was that he and the 
others were suffering from acute alcoholism combined with the effects 
of nerve-shattering peril and exposure. Hence the magic. That 
a wizard should control such an island was demanded by the beliefs of 
all seafarers of that date. 

Accept this theory, and you will concede that The Tempest came to 
the manager sanely and normally in the course of his daily life. He 
may have been casting about for a new play ; he may have purposed to 
vamp an old one say, Aurelio and Isabella ; or he may have been merely 
waiting on his demon. But it is all Prosperous wealth against Caliban's 
pignuts that to him in a receptive hour, sent by heaven, entered the 
original Stephano fresh from the seas and half-seas over. To him 
Stephano told his tale all in one piece, a two hours' discourse of most 


glorious absurdities. His profligate abundance of detail at the begin 
ning, when he was more or less sober, supplied and surely established 
the earth-basis of the play in accordance with the great law that a story 
to be truly miraculous must be ballasted with facts. His maunderings 
of magic and incomprehensible ambushes, when he was without 
reservation drunk (and this is just the time when a lesser-minded man 
than Shakespeare would have paid the reckoning and turned him 
out), suggested to the manager the peculiar note of its supernatural 

Truly it was a dream, but that there may be no doubt of its source 
or of his obligation, Shakespeare has also made the dreamer immortal. 




ASSUMING that Van Buchell's drawing of the Swan playhouse was 
copied, by one who had never seen such a building, from a sketch made 
on the spot by a curious foreigner, who was not a skilled draughtsman, 
let us try to reconstruct the scene which presented itself to the eyes of 
De Witt. He sat in the second gallery, somewhat to the right of the 
centre, 1 for, though he drew the platform as though he were occupying 
a seat exactly midway, he drew the tiring-house as he saw it, and showed 
plainly the right wall of the topmost story. In the face of the tiring- 
house two doors open upon the stage. That on the right is the larger 
and is given greater detail than its fellow, perhaps as the result of an 
attempt to show in perspective two doors of equal size. Similarly, in 
the top story the nearer window appears the wider. The stage extends 
to the middle of the yard. The artist drew his circular yard as an oval, 
much as he saw it, and then drew through its centre the horizontal 
straight line which represents the front edge of the stage. The blocks 
or piles visible below the stage may be the supports of a movable plat 
form, but, if so, they appear too large and clumsy and yet numerically 
insufficient for support of so broad a floor. Possibly De Witt meant 
to indicate from hearsay the bases of the pillars. These pillars are placed 
to conform with the imaginary direct view of the platform, but the 
shadow (or heavens) is necessarily drawn in part to match the actual 
oblique view of the top story. One supposes that Van Buchell, puzzled 
by inconsistency in the original rough sketch, and trying to give definite- 
ness to the lines and to make them fit his ideas of propriety, introduced 
further confusion. At the top the shadow turns the corner and runs 
back to the galleries ; yet at the bottom a straight horizontal line runs 
the width of the stage, and beneath this line are the pillars symmetrically 
placed. Result the right pillar is under the side plane of the roof, and 
the left under the front plane. In De Witt's sketch the right pillar must 

1 Wegener, ii. 


have stood apparently, through effect of perspective, nearer the centre, 
obscuring a good deal of that end of the tiring-house wall, while to the 
right of the pillar the roof receded to the galleries. The angle formed 
by the two lower roof-edges was on a level with our spectator's eye, and 
his line of the eaves was so nearly straight that it deceived Van Buchell. 
A line, heavier and straight er than its fellows, runs slantwise down the 
roof, a little to the left of the corner. Though not quite rightly placed, 
it represents the division between the two planes, and accordingly the 
portion to the right of it is shaded carelessly and without decision, 
because Van Buchell did not realize why any shade should be there. 
It is likely that the upper stories of the tiring-house projected, so that 
aerial descents could be made directly from the overhanging floor of the 
room above which the trumpeter stands, or even from the topmost 
chamber ; it is significant, in this connexion, that the front roof is not 
so extensive as the position of the pillars would lead us to expect. That 
the lines marking the bases of the pillars upon the platform are half-way 
between the stage-front edge and the upper part of the pit circumference 
may indicate that rather more than half the stage-depth was covered by 
the heavens and the tiring-house. 

Along the front of the balcony runs a projecting ledge, with a row 
of small pillars at its inner brink, and beneath it is a horizontal line 
sufficiently thick to indicate the shadow. The projection may have been 
two or three feet in depth, and the ledge has probably a forward slope, 
for no stays are visible beneath it. It is similar to the ledge beneath the 
balcony of the Messalina stage, though it is not quite in the same position, 
and most likely curtains were sometimes suspended from its outer edge 
so as to form a recess or cloister for concealments and ' inner scenes', or 
to provide additional entrances. 

With pillars and stage placed as they are, any representation of 
a lateral wall to the lower stories of the tiring-house must have appeared 
to Van Buchell a result of bad drawing. He believed that the three 
lower stories ran straight across the full width of the stage ; but, if he 
was right, the lower stories were broader than the topmost story, which 
rose as a turret from one side of the structure. Really, the breadth of the 
tiring-house was the same from stage to roof, and there was an equal 
space, on either side, between the lateral wall and the edge of the plat 
form. A downward extension of the vertical bounding lines of the front 
wall in the top story shows approximately where the angles of the lower 
part of the wall should be. The line on the left falls behind the pillar ; 
the corner is not visible. On the other side the effect has been vitiated 


by Van Buchell's shifting of the pillar, but, even so, there is a slight 
indication that De Witt may have shown the angle with some distinct 
ness. Slightly to left of the pillar a vertical line is drawn almost across 
the ledge, just below a heavy line which runs from top to bottom through 
the shadow in the balcony, and thence to the right the upper and lower 
lines of the ledge have a slight downward slope. The slope is not in 
accord with laws of perspective, but it seems to betray intention to show 
a turn of the ledge towards the rear of the stage, similar to that of the 
Messalina print. One result of Van Buchell's error is that the balcony 
window on the extreme right is wider than any of the others ; and if 
this were the result of perspective, the whole row would diminish 
regularly from right to left. The right-hand door appears to be farther 
from the edge of the stage than that on the left, and this too may have 
resulted from a misunderstanding of the shape of the tiring-house. 
The position of the adjusted pillar prevents our seeing if there were any 
doors in the side- walls of the tiring-house, but a study of stage-directions 
convinces one that doors opened somewhere upon the lateral passages. 
A comparison of Visscher's view with Van Buchell's drawing shows that 
the sides of the Swan's tiring-house were at right angles to the front, and 
did not slope towards the rear corners of the stage in the fashion deter 
mined by space conditions in some private playhouses. 

Van Buchell indicates no pit entrance, so we surmise that it was 
in that portion of the building which he has not drawn. A comparison 
of Visscher's drawing and the rough plan in the Manor Map of Paris 
Garden shows, on the side next the street and farthest from the stage, 
a rectangular structure, which must be a porch or a roofed staircase 
leading to the main door. From the Hope contract we learn that there 
were * two stearcasses without and adioyninge to ' the Swan. The 
second of these was, I think, at the tiring-house door, but it does not 
appear in the Manor Map. Perhaps it had been removed before the 
survey was made. 






NOTHING, perhaps, is better calculated to give a distorted impres 
sion of the truth than the device of our stage historians in dividing up 
the story of the rise and progress of the English Theatre into water 
tight compartments. Goethe's sound apophthegm that the law of life is 
continuity amidst change applies with equal force to institutions as to 
men, and to no institution more fittingly than to the playhouse. One 
has only to look closely at the facts to find that, even in the seventeenth 
century, despite the disruptive tendency of the Civil War and the 
Commonwealth, there was in matters of theatrical routine very con 
siderable overlapping. Perhaps the reason for this is best expressed in 
the words of the old Chinese proverb, * the Useful struggles vainly with 
Time, but the devourer of all things breaks his teeth upon the Agree 
able '. While the Restoration playgoer, like the playgoer of every other 
age and clime, was neither lacking in initiative nor idiosyncrasy, it 
is certain that some of his observances were the cherished relics of 
a former day. 

Even if our knowledge went no further, we should be compelled to 
arrive at this conclusion to account for the steady persistence of a curious 
custom, evidently the source of much disorder and as such constantly 
fulminated against by Charles II. This amounted to a quaint applica 
tion of the old English principle of the right of way, a principle almost 
part and parcel of the British constitution and still on occasion vigor 
ously maintained. No fewer than five times between the years 1663 
and 1674 * old Rowley ' iterated an order forbidding playgoers to 
exercise * theire pretended priviledge by custom of forcing their entrance 
at the fourth or fifth acts without payment '. Long existent, indeed, 
must have been the privilege so stubbornly upheld in the face of the 
royal displeasure. It will not be unprofitable to inquire how it originated, 
and what traces remain of its usage in pre-Restoration times. 


My impression is that the custom had its origin, not with any 
desire of suiting the convenience of the public, but as a mere matter 
of theatrical expediency. It was usual in Shakespeare's early day to 
hang up in the tiring-house for the guidance of the stage-keeper an 
entrance-and-music plot of the play, so that he might know when 
to send on the supers or give instructions for the flourishing of trum 
pets or the rattling of thunder. Seven of these plots, or platts as 
they were then called, still exist, some of them preserved at Dulwich 
College and some in the British Museum Manuscript Room. Owing 
to a misconception on the part of the old commentators, who arrived 
at the conclusion that they were scenarios for improvised plays, after 
the manner of the canevas of the Italian commedia delV arte, the 
reason for their provision has long been obscured. So far from their 
employment being so rare, there is no room for doubting that, in Eliza 
bethan days, one of these platts was made for every acted play. Without 
their aid the stage-keeper would have been all at sea. 

In examining the * Platt of Frederick and Basilea' (i.e. of a play 
performed at the Rose Theatre on June 3, 1597) Steevens was mightily 
puzzled to know who were the * gatherers ' who came on as supers at 
a certain juncture of the performance. Longo intervallo, Collier threw 
light on the mystery in pointing out that * the gatherers were those who 
gathered or collected the money, and who, during the performance, 
after all the spectators were arrived and when their services were no 
longer needed at the doors were required to appear on the stage '. Excep 
tion has been taken to this interpretation on the ground that the gatherers 
were those who collected money from the assembled audience, not the 
money-takers at the doors, but there is no reason to believe the term had 
so restricted a meaning. Dekker shows otherwise when he gives the 
instruction, in his chapter on * How a Gallant should behave himself 
in a Playhouse ' in The Guh Horn-Booke, ' whether therefore the 
gatherers of the publique or private Playhouse stand to receive the 
afternoones rent, let our Gallant (having paid it) presently advance 
himselfe up to the Throne of the Stage *. 

Collier's explanation, however, is too sweeping, inasmuch as it is 
not in reason to infer that the door-keepers would be free for stage 
employment once the performance began, much as the players might be 
desirous of minimizing the expense of hirelings by pressing them into 
service. Late-comers there always were and always will be. It is 
more rational to infer that the gatherers were only employed when all 
the normal resources of the theatre were exhausted and larger crowds 

rite t Lvu-ern* '/ft& M a.fla. 'fiferrt: 'Ttf Y Jnt.n(lv.mL : 


than usual had to go on. Happily the necessary qualification of Collier's 
statement is afforded by the * Platt of Frederick and Basilea ' itself. 
Unfortunately, unlike some of the others, this platt has no indication 
of act-divisions, but there are in all eighteen grouped entries of the 
characters and their attendants, and the first reference to the gatherers 
occurs in the ninth entry. At this juncture in the performance the play 
must have been at least half over, possibly more, as the entrances never 
occurred at regular intervals and often grew more frequent towards the 
close. Few playgoers would desire access to the theatre after a couple 
of acts had been given and, viewing the utility of the gatherers as extra 
auxiliaries, there would be great temptation to leave the doors unguarded. 
As a matter of fact, there is a passage in Braith waite's Whimsies (1631), 
describing a rufHer, which indicates a considerable slackening of 
vigilance once the play had got fairly under way : 

* To a play they wil hazard to go, though with never a rag of money : 
where after the second act, when the doore is weakly guarded, they will 
make forcible entrie ; a knock with a cudgell as the worst ; whereat 
though they grumble, they rest pacified upon their admittance. Forth 
with, by violent assault and assent, they aspire to the two-pennie 
roome, where being furnished with tinder, match, and a portion of 
decayed Barmoodas, they smoake it most terribly, applaud a prophane 
jeast, etc/ 

When we learn here that those who went to the play in 1631 after 
the second act, without the necessary admission money but with plenty 
of assurance, had little difficulty in forcing their way into the house, 
it is not surprising to find that a score of years previously the doors were 
left entirely unguarded after the termination of the fourth act. At that 
period the privilege of free entry towards the end led to much riot and 
disorder, and culminated in magisterial interference. At the General 
Session of the Peace held at Westminster in October 1612, an order was 
issued forbidding all * Jigges, Rymes and Daunces ' at the close of all 
performances within the jurisdiction. This was justified by the finding 
that * by reason of certayne lewde Jigges, songes and daunces used and 
accustomed at the playhouse called the Fortune in Goulding lane divers 
cutt-purse and other lewde and ill-disposed persons in great multitudes 
doe resorte thither at the end of everye playe many tymes causinge 
tumultes and outrages whereby His Majesties peace is often broke and 
much mischiefe like to ensue thereby '. 

This statement positively demands the assumption that the privilege 
of free entry at the end of the fourth act was already in vogue. Why 


should the crowds have flocked to the Fortune at the close of the play 
if they still had to pay the ordinary price of admission ? They might as 
well have gone early and got full value for their money. The truth is 
that, the doors being left unguarded, some took advantage of the privi 
lege to see the jig gratis and others swelled the crowd to indulge in 
pocket-picking. Whether or not the order applied to the Bankside 
theatres I should say not it by no means wrote finis to the records 
of the jig. One finds traces of its existence twenty years later. As 
much misconception prevails as to the nature of the Elizabethan stage 
jig, it may be pointed out that it was a ballad farce of a free order in 
which the rhymed dialogue was all sung to a variety of popular airs. 
It comprised at most but three or four characters and seldom took more 
than twenty minutes to perform. A fact known to few people is that 
some of the old jigs are still extant. 

One would be hardly warranted in dogmatizing over the order of the 
Westminster Justices of the Peace were it not that clear evidence of the 
existence of the privilege of entry after the fourth act, before the Civil 
War, is ready to hand. One item occurs in a poem entitled * The Long 
Vacation in London ', first published in the posthumous folio collection 
of Sir William D'Avenant's works in 1673, but written many years 
earlier. The minor poems in this volume, including the above, some 
of them dated, are arranged chronologically ; and it is not difficult to 
arrive at the conclusion that the poem referred to was written between 
1632 and 1639. Even if the lines had come down to us only in manu 
script, we should still be able to determine that they were written before 
the closing of the theatres, for they refer to the Globe as in active service, 
and the Globe disappeared for ever in 1644. Armed with the clue, there 
is no mistaking the import of the following : 

Then forth he steales ; to Globe doth run ; 
And smiles, and vowes Four Acts are done: 
Finis to bring he does protest 
Tells ev'ry Play'r, his part is best. 

One other allusion shows that the privilege was still being availed 
of at a slightly later period. It occurs in The Guardian of Cowley, 
a comedy originally performed before Prince Charles at Trinity College, 
Cambridge, on March 12, 1640-1. In Act III, Sc. i, Aurelea says to 
her tormentor, * Be abandoned by all men above a Tapster ; and not 
dare to looke a Gentleman i' the face ; unless perhaps you sneake into 
a Playhouse, at the fifth act '. 


Habits, we know, are stubborn things, but all the same it is remark 
able that a privilege arising out of special circumstances in Shakespeare's 
day should have long survived the necessity which called it into being, 
jumped the formidable barrier of the Commonwealth, and run a vigorous 
race over stony ground until the end of the third quarter of the seven 
teenth century. 





' WHAT is Wit ? What is Humour ? ' might say a jesting Pilate, 
and would probably not stay for the usual answers, which are infinite 
in number and variety. Possibly the best definitions would be those 
of a recent writer, that Wit implies * cleverness, a quick and nimble 
adroitness in bringing together unexpected points of resemblance 
between things apparently widely separated, or suggesting some in 
congruity or oddity, by a coincidence of sound or different meanings 
of a word ', while Humour (to Shakespeare a temper or predominant 
mood) * betokens a certain kindly, tolerant, broad-minded point of 
view, keenly alive to inconsistencies and incongruities, quick to note 
and to place in a view where they become patent the small failings and 
absurdities, but at the same time with a sympathetic understanding 
which suggests a nature large enough to see the faults and not to be 
repelled by them V The sense of incongruity pervades both, but 
Humour, which is the * genius of thoughtful laughter ' (Meredith), 
is tinged with emotion, while Wit is entirely intellectual. 

Tragedy and Comedy partake of both, but in different degrees. 
Thus in Tragedy, such as Shakespeare's (though not in the more 
' classical ' models), Wit and Humour play a prominent part, in in 
creasing the poignancy of the emotions, and in effecting what Aristotle 
calls their * purgation ', but they are the staple of Comedy, where they 
are employed solely * for the sake of laughter '. Again, the origin of 
* laughter ' has caused much throwing about of the brains of the ' Wise ', 
from Aristotle to M. Bergson, especially among the Germans, who have 
viewed it philosophically, from the point of view of disinterested spec 
tators. For example, Schopenhauer taught that * laughter ' was due to 
the incongruity of what is thought and what is perceived, such as the 
ludicrous appearance of a tangent touching a circle. This may be held 
to be scientific laughter, devoid of that saline base to which M. Bergson 
attributes the sparkle of the * comic '. On the other hand, the English- 

1 Edinburgh Review ^ 1912, pp. 397-9. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 213 

man, Hobbes, defined it as * a sudden glory arising from sudden con 
ception of some eminence in ourselves by comparison with the inferiority 
of others, or with our own formerly '. This being assumed, we may 
agree with George Eliot that it must have been developed out of * the cruel 
mockery of a savage at the writhings of a suffering enemy '. But away 
with such puerilities, out of which ' Agelasts ' may weave their ropes 
of sand. The theory of Evolution can transmute anything into any 
thing else, as Benedick thought love might transform him into an 
oyster. Better is it to say, with Barrow, that Humour is ' that which we 
all see and know : and one better apprehends what it is by acquaintance 
than I can inform him by description. It is indeed so versatile and 
uniform, appearing in so many shapes, so many postures, so many 
garbs, so variously apprehended by several eyes and judgements, that 
it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain notice thereof than 
to make a picture of Proteus, or to define the figure of floating air/ 

But many have tried to shackle their Proteus, eminently Professor 
Sully and M. Bergson in recent times, but, like most modern philo 
sophers, they are unconsciously treading in the footsteps of Aristotle, 
who, in his Poetic, seems to have discussed the origin of Comedy with 
as much care as he devoted to Tragedy. These chapters do not survive, 
but in the so-called Tractatus, edited by Cramer fifty years ago, an 
epitomator has given the substance (so many hold) of the philosopher's 
analysis of the Comic. After defining Comedy, the writer goes on to 
divide * inventorially ' the sources of * laughter ', which is produced 
' from diction ' or * from things '. These sources are sometimes in 
distinguishable, 1 but roughly it may be said that, in the case of * things ' 
(including thoughts on them), the matter alone is amusing, however 
it may be expressed : on the other hand, the * laughter ' is in the 
' diction ', if it is created, not expressed by words, and if, when the 
words are changed, the humour vanishes. 

A. Laughter is derived from * diction ' 2 in the following ways : 

By Homonyms? 

* Homonymous things ' are those which, though distinct, are 
known by the same name. On account of the popularity of the study 
of Rhetoric (the art of persuasion or deception) in Elizabethan times, 
such ' equivoca ' fascinated the ears of the groundlings, whose lungs were 

1 As Pancrace says (Mar. Forc^ Sc. iv), ' et tout ainsi que les pensees sont les portraits 
des choses, de raeme nos paroles sont-elles les portraits de nos pensees.' 

2 d-rrd rfjs Ae'f^wy. 3 Ka6' 



more ' tickle o* the sere * than ours. As Hamlet said, 1 ' We must speak 
by the card, or equivocation will undo us/ To mistake the word ', 

* to moralize two meanings ' in a phrase, was the besetting vice of all 
stage-characters, tragic as well as comic. Thus, * old Gaunt indeed, 
and gaunt in being old ', a ' Til gild the faces of the grooms withal ; For 
it must seem their guilt '.* We cannot but agree with the commentators 
that such jests enhance the horror of the scene ! To the clowns who are 
always ' winding up the watches of their wits ', or seeking to escape 
dullness as they say * the dogs on the Nile-banks drink at the river 
running to avoid the crocodile ', 4 such word-plays were their stock-in- 
trade from which they extracted the treasures of their lean and wasteful 
learning. These civil wars of wits, at their best, consisted in fitting an 
absurd idea into a well-established phrase-form, or in taking literally 
an expression which was used figuratively. Thus 'Mercutio. Ask for me 
to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man ' ; 6 * Oliver. Now, sir ! 
what make you here ? Orlando. Nothing : I am not taught to make any 
thing ' ; 6 * Sir Andrew. Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand ? 
Maria. Sir, I have not you by the hand ' ; 7 'Sir Andrew. Faith, I can 
cut a caper. Sir Toby. And I can cut the mutton to't '. 8 One of the 
worst is Hamlet's ; * And many such-like "As"es of great charge '. 9 

Bacon and Shakespeare ridiculed, and often practised, such * pecu 
liar and quaint affectation of words ' ; and indeed, after a long course 
of them, we feel the justice of Lorenzo's remark : 

And I do know 

A many fools, that stand in better place, 
Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word 
Defy the matter. 10 

* Homonymy ' is, to our conception, less * tolerable and not to be 
endured ' when it consists in the transference of words or proverbs into 
new surroundings, or a new key : for example, Pistol's * Why, then the 
world 's my oyster, Which I with sword will open ' ; u the Bastard's apt 

* Zounds ! I was never so bethump'd with words Since I first call'd 
my brother's father dad ' ; " Trinculo's * Alas ! the storm is come again : 
my best way is to creep under his [Caliban's] gaberdine : there is no other 
shelter hereabout : misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows;' 1 * 
or Pistol's (touching his sword) * Have we not Hiren here ? ' u 

1 Haml. V. i. 147. z Rich. II, II. i. 74. 3 Macb. II. ii. 57. 

4 Quoted by Meredith. 5 Rom. 6- Jul. III. i. 102. 6 A. Y. L. I. i. 31. 

7 Tw. N. I. iii. 69. 8 ibid. I. iii. 129. 9 Haml. V. ii. 43. 

10 Merck, of V. Hi. v. 73. n M. Wives II. ii. 2. 12 John II. 466. 

13 Temp. ii. ii. 40. 14 a Hen. IV, II. iv. 173. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 215 

By Synonyms. 1 

* Synonymous things ' are those called by the same name in the 
same sense. * Synonyms ' are the exchequer of poets, whether lyric, 
tragic, or comic, since it is possible to adorn or degrade a subject by 
applying to it opposite epithets belonging to the same genus. Thus 
Simonides thought a victory with the mule-car too starved a subject 
for his pen, until he was satisfied with his fee, whereupon he began an 
ode, * O daughters of storm-footed studs ' ; a beggar may be called a 
c solicitor ', robbery * purchase V to steal ' to convey ', 3 footpads * St. 
Nicholas ' clerks ', * squires of the night's body ', * Diana's foresters, gentle 
men of the shade, minions of the moon '. 4 Since the highest quality of 
style is due proportion (lofty to lofty, low to low) it is easy to blunder, 
in serious poetry, in the choice of * congruent epitheta '. Thus * the 
brazen Dionysius ' made all Greece laugh by speaking of * the scream of 
Calliope ' 5 : Jean Paul (after Hudibras) compared the setting sun to a 
parboiled lobster. As due proportion is demanded from serious writers, 
disproportion is the aim of comic poetry, and excites laughter. Thus, 
Armado's speeches are * a fantastical banquet, just so many strange 
dishes ' : the early clowns are said to have been * at a great feast of lan 
guages and to have stolen the scraps ', as it were c from a very alms-basket 
of words ', which often * led to old abusing of God's patience and the 
King's English '. For example, l in the posterior of the day which the 
vulgar (Oh ! base vulgar) call the afternoon '. The best commentary on 
such vagaries is Hamlet's speech beginning * Sir, his definement suffers 
no perdition in you ; though, I know, to divide him inventorially would 
dizzy the arithmetic of memory '. 6 The * wise ' say that this style is 
laughable as creating a momentary tension followed by a relapse. 

* Synonyms ' that degrade, being the stock-in-trade of Comedy, 
require no illustration. Shakespeare often tried to increase the required 
tension by giving them an enigmatic character. Thus, ' Tut ! dun's the 
mouse, the constable's own word ' ( = * be still ') ; 7 * Lipsbury pinfold ' 
(= * the teeth ') ; 8 * They call drinking deep, dyeing scarlet ; and when 
you breathe in your watering, they cry " hem ! " and bid you play it 
off ' ; 9 * I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you ' ; 10 * I am but mad 
north-north-west : when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from 
a handsaw '. n 

1 Kara a-vv^w^Lav. * Hen. V, III. ii. 47. 3 M. Wives, I. iii. 30. 

* / Hen. IV, II. i. 68 ; ibid. I. ii. 27. 5 Kpauyr) Ka\\i6-nr]s. 6 Ham/. V. ii. 118. 

7 Rom. & Jul. I. iv. 40. 8 Lear II. ii. 9. 9 / Hen. IV, II. iv. 17. 

10 Lear n. ii. 35. n Haml. II. ii. 405. 

P 2 


By Garrulity. 1 

Under this head come grandiloquence, travesty, in fact every kind 
of speech in which the thread of the verbosity is drawn out finer than 
the staple of the argument. In the grand style, the best exemplars 
(as in the case of * Synonymy ') were the * fanatical phantasime ' 
Armado, Holofernes, and Sir Nathaniel : in the lower style, the accom 
plished clowns (e. g. Touchstone), and braggadocio-militarists, such 
as Pistol and that man of words, Parolles. A good instance of clownish 
learning is : 

Costard. Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me ..... The matter is to me, sir, as 
concerning Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner. 

Biron. In what manner ? 

Costard. In manner and form following, sir ; all those three : I was seen with her in 
the manor-house, sitting with her upon the form, and taken following her into the park ; 
which, put together, is, in manner and form following. Now, sir, for the manner, it is the 
manner of a man to speak to a woman, for the form, in some form. 8 

A chief merit of good writing is that it should be adapted to its subject, 
and laughter is caused when an aggravated style is employed in em 
bellishing a mean subject, whether this is done by means of an undue 
magnificence of language, or of a tragic or lyrical metre. The best 
example of the latter in the ' Pyramus ' Ode : * Sweet moon, I thank 
thee for thy sunny beams ', especially 

A tomb 
Must cover thy sweet eyes, 

These lily lips, 

This cherry nose, 
These yellow cowslip cheeks, 

Are gone, are gone. 

A very Aristophanic parody. 

By Paronyms? 

To speak strictly, * paronymous things ' are those which are called 
by two names, where one is derived from the other by varying the 
termination ; thus Phoebus and Phoebe are * paronymous '. As a 
source of laughter, however, * Paronymy ' should be restricted to nonce- 
words, or expressions strange to literary speech. In nonce-words the 
Greek and Latin comedies are extraordinarily rich, but the genius of 
French and English does not readily lend itself to such formations : 

1 KttT* aooAeo-xiaz-. 8 Love's L. L. I. i. 1 

3 Kara no.p(awit.iav i -napii irpdaOtviv Kal a<f)aipriv. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 217 

Shakespeare, however, occasionally made experiments in them : for 
example, * the most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic ' ; l 

* I would not have been so fidiused * (viz. Aufidiused, cp. Moliere's 

* tartuffiee ') ; 2 * your bisson conspectuities ' ; 3 ' directitude ' 4 (a ser 
vant's word) ; the Gargantuan ' I am joined with no foot-landrakers, 
no long-staff sixpenny strikers, none of these mad mustachio-purple- 
hued malt-worms ; but with nobility and tranquillity, burgomasters 
and great oneyers ', 5 which is as near as the English language can 
get to the fullness of such mouth-filling compounds as o-aATnyyo- 
AoyxuTTT^aSeu, o-apKao-fioTTLrvoKdfjLTTTaL. Armado had a mint of such fire- 
new words in his brain, e. g. * volable J ; 6 * which to annothanize in 
the vulgar ' ; 7 'Dost thou infamonize me among potentates ? ' ; 8 
compare also ' Falstaff. You are grand-jurors are ye? We'll jure ye, 
i' faith ' ; 9 ' Falstaff. What a plague mean ye to colt me thus ? Prince 
Hal. Thou liest : thou art not colted ; thou art uncolted ' ; 10 Falstaff. 
'Away, you scullion ! you rampallian ! you fustilarian ! I'll tickle your 
catastrophe ' ; u 'Apprehensive, quick, forgetive ' ; 12 ' Feste. I did 
impeticos thy gratillity ' (= pocket your gratuity) ; 13 ' Costard. My incony 
Jew V 4 

By endearing expressions, especially Diminutives , 15 

English is not, as Greek, Latin, Italian, and Spanish, rich in dimi 
nutives ; but, so far as the genius of the language permitted, Shakespeare 
sometimes tried, by means of certain comic expressions, to convey the 
particular shade of affection or contempt implied in such formations, 
thus : ' Thisne, Thisne ' ; 16 ' Whoreson ' (adjectively applied not only 
to persons, but to things, in a tone of coarse tenderness, as by 
Doll Tearsheet, ' Thou whoreson little tidy Bartholomew boar-pig ' 17 
' O dainty duck ! O dear ! ' ; 18 ' bully ' (with Hercules, 19 Hector, 20 Bottom, 21 
&c.) ; ' I did impeticos thy gratillity,' 22 which may be an attempted 
diminutive of ' gratuity ' ; ' My sweet ounce of man's flesh ! My in- 
cony Jew ! ' 23 Moliere occasionally affected such ' hypocrisms', e.g. 
' Ma pauvre fanfan, pouponne de mon ame ', ' Mon petit nez, pauvre 
petit bouchon.' 24 

1 Cor. II. i. 129. 2 ibid. II. i. 145. 3 ibid. II. i. 71. 

4 ibid. IV. v. 223. 5 i Hen. IV, II. i. 81. 6 L. L. L. ill. 67. 

7 ibid. IV. i. 69. 8 ibid. V. ii. 682. 9 i Hen. IV, II. ii. 100. 

10 ibid. H. ii. 42. n 2 Hen. IV, II. i. 67. 12 ibid. IV. iii. 107. 

13 Tw. N. II. iii. 27. u L. L. L. III. 142. 15 ica0' VWOKOPHTTIKOV. 

16 17 ' 18 

19 M. Wives I. iii. 6. 20 ibid. n. 21 Mid. N. D. in. i. 8. 22 Tw. N. II. iii. 27. 
23 L. L. L. III. 142 (Kpcdbt.ov) . 24 L'jSctfr des Maris, II. ix: Sganarelle to Isabella. 


By the alteration or ludicrous perversion of a word's intention by means of 
an inflexion of the voice, a gesture, a twinkle of the eye y a change of 
expression, in fact by any of the methods which orators employ (under 
the name of actio) to drive home their meaning? 

Under this head come * puns ', especially such as the * wise ' term 
* paranomasia '. In many cases the * alteration ' is visible to the eye. 
Wit of this kind is extraordinarily common in Elizabethan dramas. 
Thus : * Falstaff. If reasons [raisins] were as plenty as blackberries, 
I would give no man a reason on compulsion, I ' ; 2 * have we not 
Hiren (= iron) here ? ' 3 ' Hostess. I must go fetch the third-borough. 
Sly. Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll answer him by law ' ; 4 * Let 's 
be no stoics nor no stocks * ; 5 * Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh 
Jew, Thou mak'st thy knife keen '. 6 Similar are Speed's jests on 
' ship ', ' sheep ', * lost mutton ', * laced mutton ' ; 7 Mercutio's * O their 
bons, their bons ! ; 8 GadshilPs * they pray continually to their saint, the 
commonwealth ; or rather, not pray to her, but prey on her, for they 
ride up and down on her and make her their boots ' ; 9 * Chief Justice . 
Your means are very slender, and your waste is great. Falstaff. I would 
it were otherwise : I would my means were greater and my waist 
slenderer ' ; 10 * Chief Justice. There is not a white hair on thy face but 
should have his effect of gravity. Falstaff. His effect of gravy, gravy, 
gravy ' ; 1] * Speed. Item, She can sew. Launce. That 's as much as 
to say, Can she so ? ' One must have nimble and active lungs to 
appreciate some of these * turlupinades.' 


By false analogy, especially in a grammatical sense? 

This figure is due to a false conclusion that two or more words, 
from being analogous in form, structure, or conjugation, are analogous in 
meaning also. Errors of this kind are common in ordinary speech, and 
are callecT solecisms, or barbarisms ; in Comedy, however, they are 
deliberately employed * for the sake of laughter '. Of this kind are 
Dame Quickly 's slips, * bastardly rogue ', * as rheumatic as two dry 
toasts ', * honey-suckle villain ', * honey-seed rogue ', * thou hemp-seed ' ; 14 
Costard's * Thou hast it ad dunghill, at the fingers' ends, as they say ' ; 15 
' Pompion the Great ' ; 16 Launce 's * I have received my proportion 

1 Kara ta\\ayTjv <j>a>vfi rot? ojmoyeWcri. * / Hen. IV, II. iv. 268. 

3 2 Hen. IV, II. iv. 173. 4 Tarn. Sh. Ind. i. 12. ibid. I. i. 31. 

* Merck. ofV. IV. i. 123. 7 Two Gent. I. i. 73 sqq. 8 Rom. &Jul. II. iv. 38. 

8 / Hen. IV, II. i. 88. 10 a Hen. IV, I. ii. 161. " ibid. 184. 

18 Two Gent. HI. i. 310. 13 Kara TO a\rma A^cwy. w Seeesp.2ffen.fV, II. i. 57 sqq. 
16 L. L. L. V. i. 82. le ibid. V. ii. 502. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 219 

like the prodigious son ' ; * Quince's * he is a very paramour for a 
sweet voice ' ; 2 Gobbo's * Sand-blind, high-gravel-blind '. 3 Under 
the same head comes false analogy even of a learned kind, such as was 
common in English comedies, when logic was more commonly studied 
than at present, and the laws of language were attracting attention, but 
were not yet understood. These questions had a strange fascination for 
Shakespeare and his compeers. Good instances are the following : 

Holof ernes. I abhor . . . such rackets of orthography, as to speak dout, fine, when he 
should say, doubt ; det, when he should pronounce, debt, d, e, b, t, not d, e, t : he clepeth 
a calf, cauf ; half, hauf ; neighbour vocatur nebour, neigh abbreviated ne. This is abhomin- 
able, which he would call abominable it insinuateth me of insanie. 4 

Speed. What an ass art thou ! I understand thee not. 

Launce. What a block art thou, that thou canst not ! My staff understands me. 

Speed. It stands under thee, indeed. 

Launce. Why, stand-under and under-stand is all one. 5 

Petr2ichio. Here, Sirrah Grumio ; knock, I say. 
Grumio. Knock, Sir ! is there any man has rebused your worship ? 
Petrttchw. Villain, I say, knock me here soundly. 

Grumio. Knock you here, sir! why, sir, what am I, sir, that I should knock you 
here, sir ? 6 

B. Laughter is derived from * things ' in the following ways : 

By comparisons which are complimentary or degrading. 1 

The employment of the former * for the sake of laughter ' is not very 
common, except in the * Gongoresque ' style of Armado, or the pedantic 
Latinisms of Holofernes ; but Falstaff made some splendid experiments 
in imitation of Lyly : ' for though the camomile, the more it is trodden 
on the faster it grows, yet youth the more it is wasted the sooner it 
wears ' ; 8 * There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and 
it is known to many in our land by the name of pitch ; this pitch, as 
ancient writers do report, doth defile ; so doth the company thou 
keepest : for, Harry, now I do not speak to thee in drink but in tears, 
not in pleasure but in passion, not in words only, but in woes also \ 9 

More common are instances of deliberate degradation. For a study 
of such * odorous ' comparisons, in which Shakespeare almost equals 
Aristophanes, take the speeches of Prince Hal that * most comparative, 
rascalliest, sweet young prince ' and of Falstaff in reply : 

Prince. I'll be no longer guilty of this sin : this sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this 
horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh, 

1 Two Gent. II. iii. 3. 2 Mid. N. D. IV. ii. 13. 3 Merck, of V. II. ii. 37. 

* L. L. L. V. i. 19 sqq. 6 Two Gent. II. v. 25 sqq. 6 Tarn. SA. I. ii. 5. 

7 ZK TTJS ofxoiwo-eco?, x/ 37 ] "* 1 TTpos TO yjtipov, Ttpbs TO /3cAnoz/. 

8 I Hen. IV, II. iv. 446. 9 ibid. 458. 


Falstaff. 'Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat's-tongue, you bull's 
pizzle, you stock-fish ! O ! for breath to utter what is like thee ; you tailor's yard, you 
sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck ! l 

Excellent too are Falstaff's description of himself and his page, ' I do 
here walk before thee like a sow that hath overwhelmed all her litter but 
one ' ; 8 Launce on his sweetheart, * She hath more qualities than a water- 
spaniel which is much in a bare Christian ' ; 3 Falstaff on Bardolph's 
nose, * Do you not remember a* saw a flea stick upon Bardolph's 
nose, and a* said it was a black soul burning in hell-fire'; 4 the Boy's 
suggestion : * Good Bardolph, put thy face between his sheets and do 
the office of a warming-pan. Faith, he 's very ill.' 5 To show how 
prodigal Shakespeare was of his imagination in the cause of laughter, 
compare 'you are now sailed into the north of my lady's opinion ; where 
you will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman's beard'; 8 'he does smile 
his face into more lines than are in the new map with the augmentation 
of the Indies ' ; 7 * Now a little fire in a wide field were like an old 
lecher's heart ; a small spark, all the rest on 's body cold ' ; 8 ' he no more 
remembers his mother now than an eight-year-old horse ; the tart 
ness of his face sours ripe grapes : when he walks, he moves like an 
engine, and the ground shrinks before his treading : he is able to pierce 
a corslet with his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. . . . 
There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger." 

By deception 

In a sense, every metaphor, every jest, is a ' deception ', as it involves 
a tension of the mind which is suddenly dissolved, but here the * decep 
tion ' is limited to ' things ', and may be illustrated by the plot of nearly 
every comedy of intrigue, such as Moliere's. In its more limited 
sense, which Aristotle probably intended, it is illustrated by the false 
teachers in the Taming of the Shrew ; Falstaff's disguise as a witch ; 
Rosalind's * Swashing outside as many mannish cowards have ' ; 
the ambushing of Parolles by his friends. Such ' deceptions ' illustrate 
the * sudden glory ' of Hobbes. The most complete example of this 
sub -head is that * merry wanderer of the night ', Puck : 

I jest to Oberon, and make him smile 

When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, 

Neighing in likeness of a filly foal : 

And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, 

In very likeness of a roasted crab ; 

And when she drinks, against her lips I bob 

1 i Hen. IV, II. iv. 271. * 2 Hen. IV^ I. ii. 1 1. 3 Two Gent. Hi. i. 272. 

4 Hen. V, II. iii. 42. 5 ibid. i. 86. 6 Tw. N. III. ii. 29. 7 ibid. ii. 86. 

8 Lear III. iv. 114. 9 Cor. V. iv. 17 sqq. 10 dircm/s. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 221 

And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale. 

The wisest aunt, telling 1 the saddest tale, 

Sometime for three- foot stool mistaketh me; 

Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, 

And ' tailor ' cries, and falls into a cough ; 

And then the whole quire holds their hips and loff. 1 

With Mr. Bergson, we may find the origin of this species of the 
comic in the pleasure children take in pretending, or in * disfiguring ' 
various animals and things. 

By impossibility? 

Under this head come all degrees of unreason and unintelligibility. 
For example : 

Clown. Bonos dies, Sir Toby : for as the old hermit of Prague, that never saw pen 
and ink, very wittily said to a niece of King Gorboduc, ' That, that is, is ' ; so I, being 
Master parson, am Master parson ; for, what is ' that ', but ' that ', and ' is ', but ' is ' ? 3 

Autolyc^ls. Here 's another ballad of a fish that appeared upon the coast on Wednesday 
the fourscore of April, forty thousand fathom above water, and sung this ballad against 
the hard hearts of maids. 4 

Sir Andrew. In sooth, thou wast in very gracious fooling last night, when thou spokest 
of Pigrogromitus, of the Vapians passing the equinoctial of Queubus : 'twas very good, 
i' faith. 5 

Here also must be classed those * most senseless and fit ' men of the 
law Dull, Dogberry, and Elbow ; Launce and his dog, * Ask my dog : 
if he say ay, it will ; if he say no, it will ; if he shake his tail and say 
nothing, it will ' ; 6 and the countless clowns who, in mistaking the 
word, aped their betters, since * foolery doth walk about the orb like 
the sun : it shines everywhere '. Shakespeare was, indeed, too wise 
not to know that for most of the purposes of human life, stupidity 
is a most valuable element, and so cannot be excluded from its due 
place in the * comic '. In his inexhaustible humanity, the poet suffered 
fools as gladly as he did wiser folk, since, like Sophocles, he was of all 
men the most * gentle ', and hated nothing that had blood in it, except 
perhaps the hypocrite lago, and the ' prenzy Angelo '. 

By that which, while not violating possibility, is devoid of sequence.' 1 

Here should be classed that deliberate irrelevance which Ben Jonson 
called * the game of vapours '. 

Falstaff. By the Lord, thou sayest true, lad. And is not my hostess of the tavern 
a most sweet wench ? 

1 Mid. N. D. II. i. 44. 2 & r&v towArw. z Tw. N. IV. ii. 14. 

4 Wint. Tale IV. iii. 277. 5 Tw. N. II. iii. 20. ' Two Gent. n. v. 36. 

7 K TOV bvvdrov Kal ava.KO\ovOov. 


Prince Hal. As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle. And is not a buff 
jerkin a most sweet robe of durance ? 

Falstaft. How now, how now, mad wag ? what, in thy quips and thy quiddities ? what 
a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin ? 

Prince Hal. Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern ? J 

For studies in comic illogicality, the reader may be referred to the 
professional unreason of Costard, Dull, Dogberry, Verger, Froth, 
Elbow, and the rest of the glorious ' thar-boroughs ', who, as is not 
unknown among officials, exalt the letter of their regulations above the 
spirit : nor must we forget Dame Quickly 's * twice sod simplicity '. 
* Thou didst swear to me upon a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin- 
chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, upon Wednesday in 
Wheeson week, when the prince broke thy head for liking his father to 
a singing-man of Windsor ' ; 2 Launce's irony ; Touchstone's dullness 
which was * the whetstone of the wits ' ; * the contagious breath ' of 
Feste, who wore no * motley in his brain ', and was * wise enough to 
play the fool, and to do that well craves a kind of wit '. Witness his 
immortal saw * Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage *. 8 Bergson 
remarks that comic logic consists in ideas counterfeiting true reasoning 
just sufficiently to deceive a mind dropping off to sleep. Of this kind 
is Falstaff s immortal soliloquy on Honour : 

What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; 
honour pricks me on. Yes, but how if honour prick me oft when I come on ? how then ? 
Can honour set to a leg ? No. Or an arm ? No. Or take away the grief of a wound ? 
No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then ? No. What is honour ? a word. What is 
that word, honour ? Air. A trim reckoning ! Who hath it ? he that died o' Wednesday. 
Doth he feel it ? No. Doth he hear it ? No. It is insensible then ? Yea, to the dead. 
But will it not live with the living ? No. Why ? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore 
111 none of it : honour is a mere scutcheon ; and so ends my catechism. 4 

It cannot be proved that Moliere was a student of Shakespeare as 
he was of Aristophanes, and so it is a curious coincidence that Sganarelle 
(Sganarelle, sc. xvii) when contemplating a duel, employed the same 
reasoning about * honour ' as Falstaff does. 

By the unexpected? 

The comic effects of the * unexpected ' are so varied that many 
writers have extended it so as to cover the whole field of the laughable. 
Thus, Kant has defined the * comic * as the result of an expectation 
which of a sudden ends in nothing. Similar is M. Bergson 's theory 
of the ludicrous effect of inelasticity or want of adaptability, since 
adaptability is necessary to the well-being of society, and laughter is 

1 i Hen. IV, I. ii. 44. 3 2 Hen. IV, II. i. 96. 3 Tw. N. I. v. 20. 

4 I Hen. IV, V. i. 129. * ex T&V irapa -npoabouav. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 223 

the corrective of qualities regarded as unsound or disturbing of its 
equanimity.. From this point of view, the laughable is something rigid 
imposed on the living. Thus, Bardolph's nose is laughable as having 
the appearance of being created by Art, ' all bubukles and whelks and 
knobs and flames of fire ', and independent of self. Laughable too is 
a person treated as a thing, as Falstaff in the buck-basket, and cooled, 
glowing hot, in the Thames, like a horse-shoe. Aristotle limited 

* surprise 'to * things * (situations, &c.), but a great deal of the pleasure 
derived from this source arises from words which create tension, e. g. 
bold metaphors, comparisons, sudden turns of phrase, such as con 
stitute, in large measure, the ' comic ' in Aristophanes. These are not 
very common in Shakespeare, but the following thoroughly Aristophanic 
turn may be quoted : ' I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need 
to be ; virtuous enough ; swore little ; diced not above seven times 
a week ; went to a bawdy-house not above once in a quarter of an 
hour ; paid money that I borrowed three or four times ' (/ Hen. IV, 
in. iii. 1 6). Falstaff was also the cause that such wit was in his friends, 
4 A rascal bragging slave ! the rogue fled from me like quicksilver. 
Doll. F faith, and thou followedst him like a church.' 1 

By representing characters as worse than nature? 
We learn from Aristotle's Poetic that Aeschylus represented men 
as better, Euripides as worse than nature. That is to say, Euripides 
painted life as he conceived it, in realistic colours, with all its foibles 
and weaknesses, and thus became the forerunner of Menander, Plautus, 
Terence, and Moliere. The standpoint of Aristophanes and Shakespeare 
was different. Being a political lampooner Aristophanes' aim was to 
treat contemporary ideals as dross. The philosophers, like Socrates ; 
the demagogues, like Cleon, Hyperbolus, and Cleophon ; the statesmen, 
like Pericles, and even Nicias, the gods themselves, were not spared. 
In the Knights, the demagogues are blackguards, brazen-faced, illiterate, 
filthy knaves, whose only qualifications are ' a horrid voice, an evil 
origin, a swashbuckler temperament ' : fortified with these * com 
plements ', * they have every qualification needed for success in political 
life '. The circumstances of the time excluded Shakespeare from 
politics, and his temperament, and possibly his inexperience of court 
life, did not fit him for such social satire as is found in Moliere, but 
an exception must be made. In Troilus and Cressida, Timon, and 
Coriolanus, for some unexplained reason, the poet adopted the role of an 

* ironic caricaturist ', with a malignity unequalled in Juvenal and Swift. 

1 2 Hen. IV, II. iv. 246. 2 (K TOV KaTao-KwdCfiv ra irpoVcoTra irpos TO \flpov. 


Ostensibly, however, he spared his contemporaries, and vented the 
accumulated bitterness of his heart upon men who had been safely 
hearsed for some thousands of years. 

Satire was a dangerous weapon in the spacious days of great 
Elizabeth, but a satirist ran no risk in calling Achilles ' a drayman, a 
porter, a very camel ' ; * or in accusing Ajax of wearing * his wits in 
his belly, and his guts in his head ' ; 2 or of having ' not so much wit 
as will stop the eye of Helen's needle ' ; 3 the wit of Ulysses and Nestor 
might safely be said to have been * mouldy ere your grandsires had nails 
on their toes * ; 4 Agamemnon might have * not so much wit as ear-wax ' ; 5 
and Diomede might be * a dissembling abominable varlet '.* In 
caricaturing the tribunes in Coriolanus, and the once popular character 
Jack Cade, he came nearer to his own time, but neither the government 
nor the mob felt their withers wrung. But one may wonder that the 
* groundlings ' did not fling their sweaty night-caps at him when he 
spoke of the people true, it was the Roman people as * our musty 
superfluity ' ; 7 ' beastly plebeians ', 8 whose only duty was to * wash 
their face and keep their teeth clean '. 9 From his experience in the 
theatre, Shakespeare seems to have had a physical repulsion from ' the 
mutable, rank-scented many ' ; 10 * common cry of curs ! whose breath 
I hate As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize As the dead 
carcases of unburied men That do corrupt my air ' ; n * a pile of 
noisome musty chaff V 2 

By the use of vulgar dancing. 

This is not so fruitful a subject in Shakespeare as in Aristophanes 
and Moliere, but comic measures were occasionally employed by him to 
please those in his audience who were capable of nothing but inex 
plicable dumb shows and noise. Thus, Sir Andrew * danced fantasti 
cally ' and was most tyrannically clapped by Sir Toby ; * Why dost 
thou not go to church in a galliard, and come home in a coranto ? My 
very walk should be a jig : I would not so much as make water but in 
a sink-a-pace.' 14 

When one has a choice, by disregarding the best, and taking the 

inferior sorts. 15 

This sub-head is somewhat like * the barber's chair, which suits 
every buttock ', but Aristotle probably would have limited it to cases 

1 Troilus I. ii. 267. 2 ibid. II. i. 78. 3 ibid. 84. 4 ibid. 1 14. 

5 ibid. V. i. 58. ibid. V. iv. a. 7 Cor. I. i. 232. 8 ibid. II. i. 107. 

9 ibid. II. iii. 65. 10 ibid. III. i. 65. " ibid. III. 3. 118. 

* ibid. V. i. 25. 13 IK TOV xpij<T6ai </>opTiK7? opx^. 14 Tw. N. I. iii. 138. 

l5 . QTOV TIS TUV iov<riai' e-^vTutv naptis TO. jWyiora (ra) ^avAorara \anfidvr]. 

W. J. M. STARKIE 225 

such as the following : ' The same Sir John, the very same. I saw 
him break Skogan's head at the court gate, when a' was a crack not thus 
high : and the very same day did I fight with one Sampson Stockfish, 
a fruiterer, behind Gray's Inn. Jesu ! Jesu ! the mad days that I have 
spent.' 1 ' You (tribunes) wear out a good wholesome forenoon in 
hearing a cause between an orange- wife and a fosset-seller, and then 
rejourn the controversy of three-pence to a second day of audience.' 2 
' This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed 
ballad-makers. . . . Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy ; mulled, deaf, 
sleepy, insensible ; a getter of more bastard children than war 's a 
destroyer of men.' 3 

By using language which is incoherent, though there may be no lack of 

(grammatical) sequence* 

The best illustration of such ' incoherence ' is Nym, the man of 
* humours ', whp heard that * men of few words are the best men ; and 
therefore he scorned to say his prayers, lest a' should be thought a 
coward '. 'Be avised, sir, and pass good humours. I will say " marry 
trap," with you, if you run the nuthook's humour on me : that is the 
very note of it '. 5 But Dogberry must not be forgotten : ' Write down 
that they hope they serve God : and write God first ; for God defend 
but God should go before such villains ! Masters, it is proved already 
that you are little better than false knaves, and it will go near to be 
thought so shortly '. 6 

Such is Aristotle's analysis of the comic. Though thorough and 
conscientious, it is somewhat mechanical and external ; 7 and, like all 
such analyses (even those of Professor Sully and M. Bergson), does 
little justice to the combination, in Aristophanes and Shakespeare, of 
wit, gaiety, swiftness of apprehension, lightness of touch, obscenity, 
frivolity, and above all, the power to touch pitch without being defiled 
the ability to rise from * the laystalls ' of buffoonery on the wings of the 
most delicate fancy. For example, Falstaff, while affording instances 
of every one of the above sub-heads, presents a great deal more that 
does not submit to any analysis. As Bagehot said of him, * If most men 
were to save up all the gaiety of their whole lives, it would come about 
to the gaiety of one speech of Falstaff.' Indeed there was much in 

1 2 Hen. IV, ill. ii. 32. 2 Cor. II. i. 78. 3 ibid. IV. v. 235 sqq. 

4 orav acrvv&pTrjTOs 77 77 Aeis KOI ^bcp-Cav &vaKO\ovdiav \<i>v. 

5 M. Wives I. i. 171. 6 Much Ado IV. ii. 21. 

7 Cp. Quiller-Couch, The Art^ of Writing^ p. 105: 'All classifying of literature 
intrudes " science " upon an art, and is artificially " scientific ", a trick of pedants.' 


common between the ages of Pericles and Elizabeth which impressed 
itself upon the language of Aristophanes and Shakespeare, so full is it 
of the intense animal spirits, of the freshness, daring, and intellectual 
vigour of those extraordinary days when, as it seems, every one from 
heroes to catchpoles, spoke in a tongue that was of imagination all 
compact. Shakespeare is said to have used fifteen thousand words 
Milton being a bad second with eight thousand : we cannot say the 
like of Aristophanes, in relation to his literary compeers, as their works 
are lost, but the richness of his comic vocabulary is extraordinary (I have 
counted sixty-three nonce-words in a single play), and is equalled by 
that of Shakespeare and Rabelais alone. Hence he cannot be translated, 
so as to give the full effect of his language, except in the diction of 
Shakespeare. Certainly modern slang is not a suitable medium ; it is 
too ephemeral, too poverty-stricken, trivial, and mean, too little tinged 
with the hues of imagination which are never absent in Aristophanes. 
Be that as it may, many passages, hitherto held to be untranslatable, 
may be readily clothed in an Elizabethan, if not Shakespearian, dress : 
for example, take the celebrated passage in the Clouds (recited with 
breathless speed) : 

Let them take me and do with me what they will. This back of mine I bequeath to be 
hungry and thirsty, to be beaten with rods, to be frozen, to be flayed into a pell, if I can 
but shuffle off my debts, and appear to the world a thrasonical, plausible patch, a go-ahead 
knave, sheer bounce, a whoreson wretch, a mint of lies, a coiner of phrases, a court-hack, 
a walking code-book, a clapper, a fox, a gimlet, a cheveril glove, a rogue in grain, smooth 
as oil, a bragging Jack, a halter-sack, a scroyle, a boggier, a hard nut, a miching mallecho. 
If they give me these additions, when they meet me, let them do their very worst aye, by 
Demeter, if they list, let them make of me a dish of chitterlings to set before the minute 
philosophers. 1 

Even Aristophanes' most difficult puns can be readily Shakespeari- 
anized. Thus, * I wonder why the flue is smoking. Halloa ! who are 
you ? ' * My name is Smoke : I'm trying to get out.' ' Smoke ? Let 
me see ; what wood 's smoke are you ? ' * Medlar wood.' ' Aye, the 
meddler. 'Tis the most searching of all smokes.' z ' Is your name 
Utis ? ' 3 'I warrant there'll be no utis here for you. 4 

1 Clouds, 439. 2 Wasps, 143 : Apemantus' jest, Timon IV. iii. 309. 

3 Owns : Ulysses' jest whereby he deceived the Cyclopes. 

4 Wasps, 1 86 (Utis = ' merriment', cp. a Hen. IV, II. iv. 21, 'First Draw. By the 
mass, here will be old Utis : it will be an excellent stratagem '). 


A. R. SKEMP 227 

GOD-LIKE is the poet's power, to pass 
Beyond the narrow limits of his being, 
And share in many lives. Another's pain, 
Aloofly pitied by land, common men, 
Stabs him with equal pang ; another's joy 
He sees not as an alien spectacle 
But feels with quickened beat of his own blood 
And kindred triumph singing in his breast. 
Through him the world's life surges ; in his song 
Its din of clashing inarticulate tones 
Grows meaningful and musical. His voice 
Utters the Word of Power that breaks the spell 
Binding the sleeping beauty of the world : 
She stirs, and customary night grows pale ; 
She wakes, and dawn is kindled at her eyes ; 
She rises, and the prince in every heart 
Beholds and worships his long-dreamed-of bride. 

There is a spark of God in every soul 
Conscious of being ; a diviner flame 
Burns in the poet's deeper, wider life ; 
And in thy spirit, Shakespeare, more intense, 
More luminous than in all poets else 
Shines the eternal sacred fire ; for thou 
Alone of all man's priesthood, lived for all, 
And gave our multitudinous mortal being 
Its conscious soul for ever. Still through thee 
Beats into us the pulse of all their lives 
Who lived once in thy soul ; our finite lives 
Reach through thee out into the infinite. 



1 From a longer poem by the writer. 



IN adding my own word on Shakespeare to the chorus of 
universal homage I speak as a student whose particular field of work 
is, not English Literature, but World Literature : the general litera 
ture of the whole world seen in perspective from the standpoint of 
the English-speaking civilization. In such a field of view Shake 
speare makes the central point : the mountain-top dominating the 
whole landscape. As in the Middle Ages all roads led to Rome, so 
in the study of World Literature all lines of thought lead to or from 

It has been said that for the achievement of literary greatness two 
powers must concur : the Man and the Moment. The concurrence 
has for once taken place without limitations : a supreme literary indi 
viduality has been projected upon an historic situation that affords it 
scope for its fullest realization. 

In Shakespeare we have the accident of genius that brings all the 
powers of poetry together to make one poet. Grasp of human nature, 
the most profound, the most subtle ; responsiveness to emotion through 
out its whole scale, from tragic pathos to rollicking jollity, with a middle 
range, over which plays a humour like the innumerable twinklings of 
a laughing ocean ; powers of imagination so instinctive that to perceive 
and to create seem the same mental act ; a sense of symmetry and pro 
portion that will make everything it touches into art ; mastery of lan 
guage, equally powerful for the language that is the servant of thought 
and the language that is a beauty in itself ; familiarity with the par 
ticular medium of dramatic representation so practised that it seems a 
misnomer to call it technique ; an ear for music that makes the rhythm 
of lyrics, of rhyme, of verse, of prose, each seem natural while it lasts, 
and spontaneously varies these rhythms with every varying shade of 

R. G. MOULTON 229 

thought : all these separate elements of poetic force, any one of which 
in conspicuous degree might make a poet, are in Shakespeare found 
in combination. The varied powers have blended with so much of 
measure and harmony that force masks itself as simplicity ; what 
Shakespeare achieves he seems to achieve with * the effortless strength 
of the gods '. 

The point of history at which Shakespeare appears is the period 
when the Renaissance has reached its full strength, and before dissipa 
tion of its forces has set in. The Renaissance brought together the 
three great things of literature : the newly recovered classics of ancient 
Greece, the mediaeval accumulations of romance, and a universally 
diffused Bible. The unity of Europe throughout the Middle Ages had 
constituted a vast gathering-ground for the richest poetic material. 
Western and oriental folk-lores, Christian religion and story, had come 
together in a Roman world which was the heir of the ancient Hellenic 
civilization. In the quiescence of all critical restraint the varied elements 
had coalesced into the literary exuberance which future ages were to 
wonder at as * romance '. The whole material of Shakespeare's plays 
is drawn from this romance ; as the Miracle Play had sought only to 
dramatize incidents of the Bible, so the Shakespearian drama sets out to 
dramatize mediaeval histories and stories. On the other hand, Greek 
tragedy and comedy make the most concentrated form of art the world 
has known : a whole story is compelled into the presentation of a single 
situation, upon which plays the combined power of dramatic and lyric, 
and sometimes even of epic poetry. The Shakespearian conception of 
plot stands to classical plot as in music harmony stands to unison ; 
the plots of these plays are federations of the single stories that sufficed 
for classical dramas, with the details of these stories romantically 
expanded. Yet the highest constructive skill may fail if the poet has 
a narrow philosophy of human life. In Shakespeare's age the profound 
conception of life which underlies the Bible had become a general 
possession ; and it was a Bible still in its full force as literature, un 
touched as yet by the coming tendency to stiffen into Puritan literalism 
or harden into religious controversy. The genius of Shakespeare 
seizes the essentials of the three grand literary types, and escapes 
the threatening limitations. In Shakespeare's own phrase, we have 
* the law of writ and the liberty ' : rules of art vanish in the higher law 
of inspired creative liberty. 

With literature such as this the only method for the teacher is 
summed up in the word interpretation. The history of criticism upon 



Shakespeare comes out as a series of retreating attacks ; critical systems 
formulated in more limited fields of art, when confronted with Shake 
spearian drama, can only reveal what in criticism had become obsolete. 
Analysis of Shakespeare implies reverent contemplation of the poetic 
product until the underlying principles have revealed themselves. It 
is the method of natural science : for, when Shakespeare is the subject 
of study, Poetry has become Nature. 


C. H. HERFORD 231 



THE War has made impracticable the co-operation of any German 
Shakespeare scholar in this collective tribute to his memory. But no 
estrangement, however bitter and profound still less the occasional 
extravagance of German claims can affect the history of the services 
rendered by Germany to the study and interpretation of Shakespeare, 
or their claim to recognition at our hands. The following sketch seeks 
merely to indicate some salient points. Of the work done in detail it is 
impossible within the present limits to offer even the baldest summary. 
A history of the growth and vicissitudes of Shakespeare's German 
fame, as such, lies outside our present purpose. 

German Shakespeare criticism began late. When Lessing, in the 
Litter aturbrieje (1759), delivered its first remarkable utterance, Voltaire 
had been for nearly thirty years by turns the patronizing champion and 
the jealous assailant of the English poet. But the German discovery, 
if tardier, was of far better augury. In France Shakespeare had to 
contend with a great national literary tradition, and with the bias, only 
fitfully overcome, of a deeply ingrained Latin culture. In Germany he 
threatened no national idols ; her own earlier classical age was remote 
and utterly forgotten ; her Gallic taste was a superficial veneer ; and 
she stood on the verge of an intellectual and spiritual Renascence, in 
which the Shakespearian influence itself was to be one of the most 
potent factors. Their first acquaintance with Shakespeare was, both 
to Lessing himself, and even more to Herder and the young Goethe, 
a liberating experience, which discovered them to themselves and 
discovered to them also, at times, aspects of Shakespeare himself which 
his own countrymen had less distinctly seen. In sheer critical calibre 
none of the three was, perhaps, superior to the greatest of their English 
predecessors. But they saw Shakespeare with eyes freed from some 
obstructions incident to the special circumstances and history of England, 



and quickened also by new kinds of intellectual and poetic experience. 
None of them, certainly, understood Shakespeare so intimately as 
Dryden. But Lessing, at once a sharp assailant of French classicism 
and a brilliant Hellenist, perceived more clearly than any predecessor 
the extent of the divergence between the former and Aristotle; and 
moreover, what had been at most suggested by a French rebel or two 
before, that the deeper teaching of Aristotle was not traversed but 
illustrated and confirmed by Shakespeare. Lessing doubtless put the 
case strongly ; he was making a point against French tragedy. But his 
trenchant assertion that Shakespeare, without knowing Aristotle, had 
come nearer to him than Corneille, who knew him well, was nevertheless 
a discovery ; one which a more scholarly Dryden, or a non-Puritan 
Milton, might conceivably have anticipated, but which neither 
approached. The too rigid antithesis between Shakespeare's * Nature ' 
and the * rules ' in which criticism had hitherto moved, Lessing in 
effect broke down ; with him, it is hardly too much to say, begins the 
study of Shakespeare's mind and art. 

Herder, too, thought that Aristotle * would have greeted Shakespeare 
as a new Sophocles '. He regarded both, however, less as artists than 
as poetic creators who, as such, had enlarged the realm of reality. This 
Greek thought had become, as a lively figure of speech, a commonplace 
of criticism ; with Herder, and the German idealists of the next genera 
tion, it became once more a living faith : ' Here we have no feigner 
(Dichter)' he exclaimed ; * but creation ; history of the world ; ' a 
conception which, however rhapsodically stated and extravagantly 
applied, powerfully promoted the study of the Shakespearian drama 
neither as * imitation ' of actuality nor as fictitious departure from it, but 
as the authentic document of a higher though related form of existence, 
with its own laws of life, by which alone it was to be judged. To judge 
it by extrinsic * rules ' was to commit an irrelevance. Many had 
defended or excused Shakespeare for not observing them : few, if any, 
had anticipated Herder's indignant repudiation of the very attempt to 
defend him for it. 

Goethe, who, as a Leipzig student, * devoured ' Shakespeare in 1766, 
withdrew later from the unqualified idolatry of his early manhood. But 
Goetz von Berlichingen(ijj^) is beyond question the finest play inspired by 
Shakespeare's Histories. And the famous analysis of Hamlet in WiUielm 
Meister (Lehrjahre, Book iv. ch. 13), though misleading and in some of its 
implications quite wrong, virtually started the Hamlet problem. The 
simile of the * costly vase ' with the oak-tree planted in it did not solve, or 



even rightly state, that problem, but it threw out a valuable hint towards 
its solution. Hamlet, for Goethe, was only the frail vase, the ' beautiful, 
pure, and noble being ' on whom too heavy a burden is laid. But it 
was soon perceived that Hamlet's strength as well as his weakness is 
implicated in his failure ; that he is in some sort the oak-tree as well as 
the vase. A. W. Schlegel was apparently the first to declare that his 
intellectual energy was a direct source of his inaction. He even asserted 
that Shakespeare wrote with the intention of showing that ' calculating 
consideration which exhausts all the possible consequences of a deed ' 
is bound to have this effect. But Schlegel equally recognized that 
Hamlet's intellectual energy is sometimes the outcome, instead of the 
cause, of his desire not to act, that * his far-fetched scruples are often 
mere pretexts to cover his want of determination ' ; and with this qualifi 
cation, his view, reinforced, after its publication, by the analogous 
theory of Coleridge, became predominant in Hamlet discussion during 
the greater part of the nineteenth century. None of his German con 
temporaries rivalled Schlegel in comprehensive appreciation of Shake 
speare an advantage which he owed to the experience of transfusing most 
of the plays, line by line, into his own language ; his translation is itself 
a splendid tribute to Shakespeare, as moonlight to the sun. Among 
contemporary Englishmen, Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt, in the pre 
vious generation Morgann, more than equalled him in delicacy and 
sureness of feeling. Yet Hazlitt did not greatly overstate the case when 
he said that it had been reserved for Schlegel to give reasons for the 
faith in Shakespeare which Englishmen entertained. Hazlitt himself 
no doubt brilliantly took up his own challenge. But Schlegel had then 
been for ten years in the field. 

Of SchlegeFs fellow romantics, even of his brilliant younger brother, 
little need here be said ; they contributed at most to heighten the 
prestige and popularity of the more fantastic side of Shakespeare's art, 
which appealed to their characteristic distaste for actuality. Nor did 
Goethe and Schiller effect anything by their quasi-classical adaptations 
of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth but the completer triumph of Shake 
speare's authentic art on the German stage itself. To Eckermann, 
however, in his last years, Goethe addressed many acute and original 
remarks about the plays, which are still of value. 

Among Schlegel's contemporaries there was nevertheless one who, 
though in no sense specially occupied with Shakespeare, was to exercise 
an enormous influence, for a generation, upon German interpretation of 
him. Hegel, even more than the later Goethe, approached Shakespeare 


from the side of the Greeks, and his aesthetic ideals, if not inspired by 
Greek art, were there most completely fulfilled. But the greatest of 
modern thinkers upon poetry was not likely to contribute nothing to 
the criticism of the greatest modern dramatist ; and Hegel's theory of 
tragedy, as Mr. Bradley has shown, 1 if inadequate as it stands to the 
tragedy of Shakespeare, implicitly illuminates some neglected aspects 
of it. But Hegel's effect upon Shakespeare criticism was exercised 
mainly through his system as a whole, which between 1820 and 1840 
permeated and mastered all the currents of German thought. In 
literary criticism his influence immensely stimulated that German super 
stition of the * fundamental idea ' against which Goethe had levelled 
a memorable sarcasm. 2 The well-known commentary of Ulrici (1839), 
and in a less degree that of Gervinus (1849), were monuments of 
intellectual energy inspired by a misleading assumption. But, as so 
constantly with Hegel himself, falsity of the main thesis did not exclude 
abundant by-products of subtle observation which would not have been 
made without it ; the light might lead astray, but its gleam discovered 
many a casual jewel by the wayside. After the middle of the century 
the Hegelian spell subsided ; and in the brilliant lectures of F. Kreyssig, 
the philosophy of the * Idea ' survives only as an acute perception of 
organic unity, shorn of metaphysical exuberance, and solidified with 
shrewd judgement and Elizabethan scholarship. How fruitful, in this 
combination, Hegel's specific theory of drama can still be, is apparent 
from the influence it has confessedly exerted upon the most important 
contemporary discussion of Shakespearian tragedy among ourselves. 

The decline of Hegel's prestige meant everywhere a recovery of the 
temper of sober, matter-of-fact research. Thenceforward the most im 
portant Shakespearian work of Germany was done in this temper, fortified 
by her iron industry ; the fifty volumes of the Shakespeare-Jahrbuch (from 
1864) are its imposing monument. In the investigation of Shakespeare's 
life, and in the finer handling of his style and verse, German scholars have 
seldom competed on equal terms with those of England and America. But 
in the exhaustive analysis of published literary material they can point to 
an extraordinary mass of solid and valuable work. Merely as examples 
it must suffice to cite the numerous studies of Shakespeare's sources, of 
his debt to his dramatic predecessors, of his use of prose and verse, of his 
grammar and syntax, of his mythology and folk-lore, and, recently, of 

1 Oxford Lectures on Poetry, p. 85 f. ; the view that * on both sides in the tragic 
conflict there is a spiritual value '. 

8 Eckermann, Gesprache, III, u/f. (May 6, 1827). 

C. H. HERFORD 235 

his stage technique. The outlying topic of the plays performed by 
Elizabethan actors in Germany has remained a German speciality. 
And the gratitude of Shakespeare students all over the world is due to 
the great Lexicon produced, in his scanty leisure, single-handed, by the 
labour and sagacity of Alexander Schmidt. 

Germany's contribution to Shakespeare study may thus be summed 
up as of two kinds : first, rigorous and exhaustive sifting of the literary 
material ; second, a wealth of ideas, hypotheses, generalizations, 
apergus often fanciful, sometimes in the highest degree extravagant, 
even laughable, but put forward with an intellectual seriousness, and 
applied with a passion for truth, which have made them often more 
fruitful than the soberer speculations of more temperate minds. 







BY Avon's stream, glassed in its rippling blue, 
Rises the great grey church, now glorified 
By a new inmate. See, the doors stand wide, 

And little maids, first peeping shyly through, 

Steal in on tiptoe. * Ah, the tale is true ! 
An open grave there by the chancel's side ! 
And Master Sexton works with what a pride ! 

There surely lies the man whom all will rue. 

4 How oft we've met him on our homeward way 
Calling his dogs, or dreaming 'neath a tall, 

O'ershadowing elm ! and once he spoke to you ! 
The richest man in Stratford, so they say, 
Aye, and the wisest, and, says Doctor Hall, 
A famous name he has at London too ! ' 



WE know thee now at last, Poet divine ! 

The clearest-eyed of these three hundred years, 

Master supreme of laughter and of tears, 
Magical Maker of the mightiest line ! 
When to dark doubts our England would resign, 

Thy patriot-voice recalls her from her fears ; 

Shakespeare of England, still thy country rears 
Thy pillar and with treasure loads thy shrine ! 

Nor only England's art thou. England's foe 
Stoops to thy sway, and thou alone dost bind 

When all the bonds of statecraft snap and cease, 
O sign of comfort in a sky of woe ! 
Above the warring waves and shrieking wind 
Thy starry Spirit shines and whispers * Peace '. 





SHAKESPEARE has been claimed as a member of many professions, 
a rider of many hobbies. It is unlikely that any one will be found 
to maintain that he was either a librarian or a bibliographer. He 
has, however, given both librarians and bibliographers plenty to do, 
and from the results of their labours a few facts of some interest 
may be gleaned as to his early popularity, which may be accepted as 
a bibliographer's * praise '. 

The first proof of the popularity of Shakespeare's writings with 
his contemporaries lies in the numerous editions of his poems, and their 
extreme rarity. Venus and Adonis reached its twelfth edition in 1636, 
and, according to Sir Sidney Lee's reckoning, of the dozen editions 
less than a score of copies survive, while seven editions of Lucrece (the 
seventh in 1632) yield but thirty. A second proof may be found in the 
frequent attempts to pirate his plays. To run the risk of fine and for 
feiture a piratical printer must have felt sure of a speedy profit on his 
outlay for print and paper, and only plays that had won a striking success 
on the boards could promise this. The pirates have been credited with 
more triumphs than they achieved, but their hits kept Shakespeare's 
company on the alert, and they scored heavily by capturing Henry V, 
the most vigorous and patriotic of the histories, and less decisively with 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, popular, it is to be feared, rather for its 
grossness than its fun, and Romeo and Juliet, the most passionate of the 
tragedies. As Mr. Madan has pointed out, we have another proof of 
the popularity of Romeo and Juliet in the special signs of wear on the 
leaves of this play in the copy presented by the Stationers' Company 
to the Bodleian Library at Oxford, where it was doubtless read chiefly 
by the young Bachelors of Arts. Next to Romeo and Juliet the play 
most popular with these Oxford readers was a classical tragedy, Julius 

By the double test of many editions and few surviving copies we 
know that in his own day Shakespeare's most striking successes were 

A. W. POLLARD 239 

won with his Histories. The Second Part of King Henry IV fell flat 
from the press, but Richard II, Richard III, the First Part of King 
Henry IV ', and Henry V were all great successes, running through five 
and six editions apiece before 1623, and so bethumbed that in some 
instances only a single copy survives. It must seem curious to us now 
that such of Shakespeare's comedies as were printed during his life sold 
but poorly. The Midsummer Night's Dream may have done fairly well, 
but neither The Merchant of Venice nor Much Ado about Nothing can 
have brought much profit to its publishers, and when The Merchant of 
Venice was reprinted, in 1637, so slow was its sale that as late as 1652 
it was worth while to print a new title-page and reissue the old stock 
under the guise of another edition. 

In the first years after the Restoration it may have seemed for a 
while as if Shakespeare was on the brink of passing into the ranks of 
obsolete dramatists. Neither his histories nor his comedies pleased 
the playgoers who took their cue from King Charles II. But soon after 
1670 his tragedies began to come by their own, and by the end of the 
century Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Othello were all established successes. 
Thenceforward Shakespeare's hold on the theatre has never relaxed. 

Of Shakespeare's popularity with readers, as distinct from theatre 
goers willing to buy a book of the play, the evidence is decisive. Four 
great Folio editions were sold in the seventeenth century, and in the 
eighteenth a succession of editors Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, 
Warburton, Capell, Johnson, Steevens, Malone worked on his text. 
Until more than half the century had elapsed the representatives of the 
original publishers claimed the copyright of his works, but they behaved 
with some liberality to his editors, and it was only the cheap editions 
which they delayed. Towards the end of the century these became 
common, while as early as 1746 there appeared a French translation, 
and sixteen years later a German. No previous English writer had 
attained any such vogue in the century which followed his death. 

The collecting of early editions of Shakespeare's works began with 
his editors and actors, Capell, Steevens, and Malone being the most 
prominent among the former, Garrick and Kemble among the latter. 
By the end of the eighteenth century the four large Folio editions pub 
lished in its predecessor had won a place fairly high on the list of books 
without which no collection could be called of the first rank ; but the 
Quartos, perhaps because of the abuse with which they had been un 
critically loaded by the very editors who accepted their readings, were 
still sought after only by specialists in the English drama. In our own 


day a single Quarto has fetched a price higher than had ever been paid 
a few years ago for the finest copy of the First Folio, and a complete set 
of the first editions, published before 1623, has a higher pecuniary 
value than any other set of printed books occupying so few inches of 

Bibliography, which of late years has cleared up a few misconcep 
tions of literary editors, notably by proving that the edition of The 
Merchant of Venice which they accepted as the first was printed nine 
teen years after the date it bears on its title, has still something to do 
for Shakespeare. But the task is attended by an unusual difficulty. 
A few years ago quite a promising attempt to determine the number 
of presses used in printing the First Folio by the recurrence of certain 
bends in the brass rules which enclose the text on its pages was wrecked 
by the perpetual attractiveness of the letterpress at the foot of the 
columns. The problems of Shakespeare's punctuation and use of 
emphasis capitals, which offer a fair hope of recovering the alternations 
of level pace with rush or pause with which he intended his set speeches 
to be delivered, are hampered by an even greater hindrance of the same 
kind. But here at least the effort to extract results from minute investi 
gations is worth the making. To help forward the better understanding 
of Shakespeare's text is surely as good a hobby as a quiet man need 





To trace the influence exercised upon a nation's history by a master 
spirit of its literature could never be an unfitting employment for the 
student of either. And least of all could any attempt in this direction 
be deemed out of season, if made at a time when the revolving years 
specially recall the close of a life to the achievements of which a nation 
owes part of its greatness, and when its annals happen to have reached 
a stage destined to mark decisively the advance or the decline of its 
vitality. Contemporary witnesses of crises of this sort, whether them 
selves taking an active part in the settlement of the issues at stake, or 
surviving long enough to look back upon them as carried to a conclusion, 
can rarely measure the whole bearing, or define the exact significance, 
of the problems that occupy, or have occupied, the national attention. 
But where the moral and intellectual as well as the material resources 
of a nation are consciously thrown into the balance, the contributory 
inspiring and sustaining forces, among which the products of literary 
genius are most assuredly to be numbered, must necessarily be taken 
into account with the rest. The three successive centenaries of the 
year of Shakespeare's death, like that year itself, sufficiently, though not 
with the absolute precision of a school manual, mark the beginnings 
of very distinct epochs of the highest importance for the development 
of our national life, more especially in its relation to the life of other 
nations. This aspect of a Shakespeare Commemoration, which brings 
many of us together, at least in spirit, in the midst of the world's 
strife, therefore seems to call for notice, however slight, together with 
others appealing more directly to the reverential gratitude which is his 
for all time. 

The actual year of Shakespeare's death is marked in our political 
history most conspicuously by an event the fall of Somerset of so 
secondary an importance as to have made no real difference in James I's 
negotiations with Spain and in his hope to make a Spanish alliance the 
corner-stone of his foreign policy. His mind was not yet made up, and 


it was in this very year that he allowed Raleigh to depart on his last 
and fatal voyage. Only three years since, James had given his daughter 
in marriage to the young Elector Palatine, the crowning sign of his 
intimate alliance with militant Protestantism. And, two years later, 
there was to break out what proved one of the most protracted and 
(after every allowance has been made for overstatement) one of the 
most calamitous wars that have at any time convulsed a great part of 
European civilization. That England, after much and eager debate, 
should as a state not have become involved in the earlier phases of the 
struggle, and thus, with the Pope and the Sultan, have stood aside from 
the pacification which concluded it, was due to a twofold cause. But 
though her isolation during the whole later course of the Thirty Years' 
War was a consequence of the internal conflicts which rose to their 
height under James Fs successor and led to the Great Civil War, it was 
the pacific policy of James himself that restrained her at the outset, 
when the country at large not the Puritan or the war party only, but 
the public as a whole, and court and clergy with the rest were in favour 
of war with Spain. James Fs mind was capable of grasping the condi 
tions of the great problem of peace or war, though not of effectively 
addressing itself to the actual situation, which is always the touchstone 
of real political capacity ; and he perceived what the body of his 
subjects could not follow him in perceiving the danger of identifying 
England with the aggressive and even, in Protestant Germany, 
isolated policy of his Calvinist son-in-law. But he was blind to the 
folly of depending for the maintenance of peace on the application of 
diplomatic pressure to Spain, which he sought to make possible by 
the futile fabric of the Spanish marriage scheme. Thus, in the very 
year in which the Bohemian war broke out, Raleigh's life was sacrificed 
with an impotence to remain unforgotten either by the hero-victim's 
Puritan partisans or by the English people at large. 

What followed was a policy of which the whole nation shared the 
humiliation, before James himself came to perceive its absolute failure. 
The Palatinate had been lost * in ' and with Bohemia, and James, who 
had permitted English volunteers to go out to save his grandchildren's 
inheritance had allowed Spain to levy a couple of regiments here to help 
in preventing its restoration. 

There is no reason for concluding that Shakespeare stood in any 
distinct personal relation to the conflicts of opinion which at the time 
of his death seemed on the eve of coming to a head in England, and 
were soon to burst forth in open warfare abroad. What we may assume 

A. W. WARD 243 

as certain is that he regarded them, so far as they came under his 
cognizance, from a point of view to which it was impossible for him to 
shut his eyes. This was, in a word, the point of view of an Englishman. 
Perhaps no critic saw more clearly than Goethe that the essence of 
Shakespeare's dramatic genius lies in his direct reproduction as a living 
reality of the impressions derived by him from observation of the world 
around him ; and it was Goethe who, in one of the later of his deliver 
ances on the adored poet of his strenuous youth, spoke as follows of the 
patriotic element never wanting in this process of recasting : 

* Shakespeare's poetic creations are like a great fair, replete with 
living figures ; and this abundance he owes to his native land. Every 
where in him we find England, surrounded by the sea, enveloped in fog 
and clouds, active in every region of the world. The poet lives in a notable 
and important age, and reproduces for us, with much serenity of mood, 
its culture, and indeed its mis-culture also ; he would not exercise so 
great an effect upon us, had he not placed himself on the level of the 
strenuous times in which he lived. No dramatist has ever shown a more 
utter contempt for outward and visible costume ; he has a thorough 
knowledge of the inner costume of men as to which they all resemble 
one another. It is said that he produced excellent likenesses of Romans ; 
such is not my opinion. His personages are all Englishmen incarnate ; 
but, to be sure, they are human beings, human beings from top to toe, 
and as such not ill-fitted with a Roman toga. So long as this is under 
stood, his anachronisms are highly praiseworthy, and the very fact that 
he offends so often against the prescription of external costume is what 
makes his works so full of life.' 

The life of Shakespeare had run its course under the clamour of 
great events without being brought into direct contact with any of them, 
even after the fashion of that of Cervantes (who died in the same year, 
though not on the same day, and who had borne a personal part in the 
glory, cold to him, of Lepanto). The English actor, as a favoured 
servant of King James I's court, can have been no stranger to the 
very genuine enthusiasm with which both court and public no longer 
altogether synonyms greeted the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth, 
and what could have been more pleasing to the poet than that the 
occasion should be graced by the revival of his last play ? For as such 
The Tempest, which there is every reason to conclude to have been 
reproduced (not first put on the stage) on this occasion, may assuredly 
be regarded. Though full of allegory like no other of his plays, it was 
not intended or desired by its author to offer on his part a solemn 


farewell either to the stage or to the life of affairs at large ; yet it reveals 
thoughts of such partings, which had passed through his mind as pro 
phetic visitants. For the rest, there is no reason for supposing the 
retired burgess of Stratford to have been moved by the dictates of politi 
cal or of religious partisanship. Of the former he cannot, on reasonable 
consideration of the outward conditions of his career, be suspected, 
and, happily for the creations of his genius, he was lifted away from the 
atmosphere of contending creeds by the intellectual freedom of vision 
which the Renascence had brought as its noblest gift to himself and 
his peers. Or are we to attach any significance to the fact that soon after 
James Fs accession Shakespeare had been one of the members of his 
company specially attached to the household service of the Archduke 
Albert and his two Spanish companies at Somerset House ? Or, again, 
is it worth noting that the Earl of Rutland, to whom Shakespeare quite 
at the end of his life rendered a semi-professional service in devising 
an impresa for him with Burbage for a royal tournament, was a strict 
Catholic as well as a friend of Southampton, himself the descendant of 
a Catholic father and grandfather ? In so far as the Puritans are to be 
looked upon as in natural alliance with the war-party of James's later 
years, Shakespeare's antipathies were against these friends of Raleigh 
and foes of Spain ; but they were antipathies of humour mainly, of 
which he made a secret, though it must be granted that both in 
London and at Stratford he had cause for personal dislike. But his 
reflections on the Puritans are far from proving in the case of Raleigh, 
any more than in that of Essex, that he was anything but unfriendly to 
the man to whom their support was more or less accorded. For the rest, 
political freedom a kind of freedom differing in conception from that 
dear to the heart of either the Ariels or the Calibans of the social system 
and even from the freedom of thought claimed by Stephano had not 
yet presented itself to this period of the national life as the ideal which 
it was to become to the next generation. 

At the same time, any sober judgement will concede that, apart 
from the influence of man upon man, of which we know nothing, the 
views held by Shakespeare on national questions in his last years would 
be of little consequence, direct or indirect, as contributing to swell 
currents of public opinion, or, still less, to supply the motive force 
by which such currents are started or sustained. He had ceased to 
write for the stage, or even to take an active part in directing or con 
trolling its appeals to further goodwill ; and though his plays more 
than held their own on the stage or at court against those of his fellow 



dramatists, there was no great demand for printed copies of them in 
the author's lifetime, and at the time of his death they still awaited the 
compliment of being published collectively, which was in this very year 
paid to those of Ben Jonson. In a word, even if the long-lived popularity 
of his first poem be taken into account, he was at this time, though 
praised and quoted in the world of the court, among university wits, 
and even in the pulpit, hardly more than a favourite in his own country, 
while the knowledge of his plays which had extended beyond it was as 
meagre as it was sporadic. * Our Shakespeare ' was a name to conjure 
with among dilettanti, and in the world of his old profession ; but the 
time, though fast approaching, had not quite come, when the whole 
literary legacy, the bestowal of which caused him so little care, would 
be claimed as a legacy by the nation, and put out to interest in its behalf. 

Thus, if on passing to the first centenary of his death we observe 
how greatly by that date * the case had altered ', the process had really 
been natural and continuous. On the lapse of a century from the date 
of his death, Shakespeare is found, instead of a favourite only in literary 
circles and among playgoers, acknowledged as a national classic in his 
own land, and no longer a stranger to men of letters outside it. In 1716, 
Great Britain (as England and Scotland called themselves since their 
formal union) could look back upon the victorious close of a struggle 
of which the defence of the peace of Europe against systematic aggression 
had been the final cause, and upon the conclusion of a peace which at 
least had the merit of seeking to establish the political system of Europe 
on an abiding basis. The dynastic settlement at home, which virtually 
formed part of the general pacification, had not been undone by the 
'15, and the nation and the empire could look forward to generations 
of domestic prosperity and colonial expansion. It was as if the period 
of which the ' last four years ' of Queen Anne formed part had been 
called upon to take stock of the literary achievements of a community, 
whose political and literary interests had never before entered into so 
close a mutual intimacy, and as if the great writers whose names were 
definitively inscribed on the roll of its classics, were, like those of its great 
statesmen and classics, to acquire a freehold there for all future ages, 
Shakespeare had now been recognized as a * great heir of fame ' by the 
unprejudiced pronouncement of one who was * himself a Muse ', and 
he stood established as an English classic, to be prized not only for his 
incidental beauties, dropped as the careless ocean drops its pearls, or 
stealing on the ear like * native wood-notes ', but for the power of his 



poetic diction as a whole, which, as Gray wrote in one of his early letters, 
makes * every word in him a picture '. Accordingly, the first duty of 
those interested in vindicating to him his place among English classics 
seemed to be to present it by textual revision and commentary as what 
it actually is and signifies. While the literary leaders of the age a Pope, 
an Addison held themselves called upon to bring their names into 
closest association with his, the acknowledgement of his incontestable 
superiority to all formed a kind of test of the truest distinction. The 
uncertainty of the national self-estimate in matters literary which in the 
latter part of the previous century had imposed the dictates of French 
classical criticism, more especially upon our dramatists, and to which 
Dryden himself had, with his eyes open, given way, was coming to an 
end, both in the study and on the stage ; and the nation's estimate of the 
greatest of its poets was being gradually freed from the bondage to which 
it had been subjected in deference to alien precept. At the same time, 
the welcome given to Shakespeare's plays on the stage, the surest 
criterion of the public interest in his genius, rose steadily to unpre 
cedented heights, till it reached its culminating point in the career of 
Garrick. Whatever elements of excess may (after the manner of things 
histrionic) have made themselves perceptible in the oddly named, oddly 
dated, and oddly carried out * Shakespeare's Jubilee ' at Stratford in 
1769, Garrick was entitled to pose as its tutelary spirit. 

In 1816, the second centenary of Shakespeare's death found the 
national recognition of his genius still in the ascendant. In the theatre, 
where the Kemble constellation had long magnificently diffused its limpid 
light, the fiery star of Edmund Kean was appearing on the horizon ; 
and our libraries in England and in America were ranging on their 
shelves the great variorum editions that were in their totality to form the 
poet's chief literary movement. He was no longer an English classic 
only ; the German theatrical knowledge of his plays, which had begun 
after a fashion in his lifetime, had now become a literary knowledge 
also, and had grown into a critical insight, since Lessing had claimed 
for Shakespeare's genius the right of determining for itself the conditions 
of its fidelity to the laws of the drama. The enthusiasm proclaimed 
by a school of writers whose exuberant vitality was that of a new literary 
generation and whose reader was the youthful Goethe, had, with the 
aid of Schlegel's translation, become a popular devotion such as never 
before or since has been paid by any nation to the greatest writer of 
another. In the cosmopolitan eighteenth century, Shakespeare's great- 

A. W. WARD 247 

ness had not remained a secret to yet other countries ; but in France 
the fight had not yet been fought out with the traditions tenaciously 
defended by Voltaire. 

Thus when in 1816, after another year of European struggle, this 
time waged against revolutionary France and its heir Napoleon, the 
British nation was in the most powerful position ever held by it in the 
political world, and once more stood before Europe as the victorious 
guardian of her peace, Shakespeare was already becoming a world-classic, 
in a sense in which this can be predicted of very few luminaries in the 
world's literary history. The century which had opened has witnessed 
an increase of endeavour and achievement in every direction of Shake 
speare study and Shakespeare criticism not the least on the side 
where in 1815 Wordsworth frankly acknowledged the superiority of the 
Germans, although Coleridge, it must be remembered, indignantly 
repudiated the supposition of a direct indebtedness to them. The age 
of comparative study of literature was dawning ; nor was it without 
significance that Guizot, the illustrious Frenchman who united to his 
appreciation of English political history an insight into that of the 
civilization of Europe, should have fathered the first adequate French 
translation of Shakespeare. And, nearing completion at the present turn 
of the century as reckoned by our dates, the great American variorum 
(to mention one other Shakespearean task handed down from father 
to son) brings home to us by the contents of this treasure-house of 
learning one of the most characteristic features of the age in which we 
move and live cooperation, as applied to the work of the master. 

The Tercentenary of Shakespeare's death, which, shorn of all 
external grandeur by the visitation of the present war, we are now cele 
brating, must fall short in this, as in the other, feature that it would 
have most signally displayed. For the world-classic, whose literary 
world-empire is no longer matter of dispute, the fullness of the homage 
that has become his right is wanting in the tribute now being paid to his 
greatness. As for the country of his birth and of his loyal affection, it 
will be truest to him if it can remain true to itself. For to Shakespeare 
no high and holy motive of action and service, least of all the love of 
honour and the love of country, are separable from true manhood, or 
from achievement not the mere thought of it or wish for it which is 
manhood's surest test. 

A. W. WARD. 

R 2 



IF e'er I doubt of England, I recall 
Gentle Will Shakespeare, her authentic son, 
Wombed in her soul and with her meadows one, 

Whose tears and laughter hold the world in thrall, 

Impartial bard of Briton, Roman, Gaul, 
Jew, Gentile, white or black. Greek poets shun 
Strange realms of song his ventures overrun 

The globe, his sovereign art embraces all. 

Such too is England's Empire hers the art 
To hold all faiths and races 'neath her sway, 

An art wherein love plays the better part. 
Thus comes it, all beside her fight and pray, 

While, like twin sons of that same mighty heart, 
St. George and Shakespeare share one April day, 




WHAT is the vivid attraction that compels so many of us to love 
our London with a great love ? By some the cause of this sentiment 
is styled * the lure ', but this word is too near akin to ' guile ' to harmo 
nize with our feelings, which ring true as steel. 

London has been and is the greatest business city of the world, 
and the history of commerce tells of her greatness. The river also, 
from which she was born, bears upon its bosom the riches of the earth. 

We are all proud to be * citizens of no mean city ', but there is 
something more than this. The Thames is full of wonders to be seen 
from the Tower to Westminster Abbey, so that its history is a fairy tale 
of doings that are written in the history of England. The names of 
Chaucer, Gower, Richard II, Elizabeth, Sidney, Raleigh, Shakespeare, 
and many others are written on its waters. The true glory of London, 
therefore, is to be found in her association with England's greatest men. 
To those who love her and know her history the very stones cry out, and 
the poorest streets, as well as the richer ones, remind them of the witchery 
of these names. Above all stands out the name of Shakespeare, who 
came to her in his youth. As a true son he loved his native town of 
Stratford, but his character was formed in London by the great men 
with whom he associated. London was his University, and teachers 
at that University were the wonderful men that abounded in * the 
spacious days ' of Eliza's reign. 

He longed to return to his home, but he did not forget what he 
owed to London, and London will never forget what she owes to him. 
He breathed the universal air of human nature, but he pictured the 
characters he saw in London. The Roman mob in Julius Caesar were 
doubtless true to the men of the classic city, but they were drawn from 
the men of London, and they were none the less true from being so 
drawn. London is proud that she did her part in influencing that 
master mind. 

The outline of the Map of Elizabethan London placed upon one of 


1916 looks only a small town, but to the Elizabethans, who were unable 
to conceive of any city growing to the size of modern London, it was 
a big place. Though Shakespeare's London was small, it was of as much 
importance relatively to other cities and towns as the present London is. 
The town still grows and will continue to grow, but the heart of the 
city is the same as ever and the spirit of Shakespeare pervades that 
heart. The old city has been altered almost out of knowledge, but the 
relics of his residence can still be traced. 

Some may think that there is little to remind us of Shakespeare 
in our modern London, but is this really so ? The confident answer 
is ' No ! certainly not ! ' 

Let us try to call to mind some of the places associated with him. 
The actual buildings of Gray's Inn Hall and Middle Temple Hall still 
exist, where two of the plays were acted : The Comedy of Errors in 1594 
at the former, and Twelfth Night in 1602 at the latter. The two Halls 
at these dates were comparatively new. 

* The Great Chamber ' at Whitehall, in which so many of Shake 
speare's plays were acted before the court, has passed away, but Mr. 
Ernest Law has shown us where it stood, and that beneath it were the 
remains of Cardinal Wolsey's cellar at York Place which still exists in 
the basement of the Board of Trade buildings. There is every reason 
to hope that this relic of the past, brimful of interesting associations, 
will be preserved in the new house that is projected for this Government 

Shakespeare's earliest residence in London known to us was in 
the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, and the fine church of St. Helen's 
still remains a beautiful survival. Bankside, where he lived for many 
years in the neighbourhood of the Globe Theatre, is much altered, but 
we cannot walk by the side of the Thames without picturing it as it was 
when Shakespeare's influence there was great. 

Those places associated with Shakespeare which have been swept 
away have left something which reminds the student of him. In the 
windings of Blackfriars his shadow is to be seen. The roses of York 
and Lancaster are still occasionally exhibited in the Temple Gardens, 
although they do not flourish there now ; but there is little in Ely Place 
and Hatton Garden to remind us of strawberries, although we have 
Richard Ill's authority for believing that they grew there once. In 
Cripplegate we can look for the dwelling of Christopher Mountjoy, the 
Huguenot tire-man, where Shakespeare resided for a term. Farther on 
we can visit Shoreditch and see where the first theatre was built within 



the precincts of the dissolved Priory of Haliwell, with the site of the 
Curtain Theatre near by, although outside the precincts. 

When Bolingbroke (then king) lamented the dissolute conduct of 
his son, he called upon his courtiers to * Inquire at London 'mongst the 
taverns there '. We may obey the charge and search for the old * Boar's 
Head ' at Eastcheap (now King William Street). We shall not find it, 
but we know that it stood where the statue of William IV now stands. 

With greater eagerness we turn into Cheapside and seek for the site, 
in Bread Street and Friday Street, of the ever memorable ' Mermaid ' 
tavern where the * Spanish great galleon ' Jonson met the English * man 
of war ' Shakespeare in wit combats. This must be the most sacred of 
spots in our memory. The very thought of these meetings of the 
choicest spirits of the age fills one's soul with fire. 

Our huge London has outlived many memories, but the memory 
of our master-poet is not one of these. It enlivens us as we visit in 
imagination the remains of old London, and the glory of his fame pervades 
the larger area of to-day. 

London of the twentieth century forgets not the long list of her 
noble sons and daughters in former centuries, and will ever remember 
what they have done for her. She lives in the past as well as in the 
present, and her gratitude is worthy and complete. More and more 
she realizes her indebtedness to these worthies, and in this year of 
special commemoration she renders her devoted homage to the greatest 
genius of them all : William Shakespeare. 





' THE Mermaid in Chepe * has gained immortal fame in Beaumont's 
famous lines ; but there was another tavern of that name, * The Mermaid,' 
Aldersgate, hitherto unnoticed, which Shakespearians will, I feel sure, 
henceforward associate with the poet and with his fellow and friend Michael 
Drayton. This old tavern abutted on the City Wall and was an integral 
part of the ancient City Gate itself. It is my belief that in unbroken 
sequence it is perhaps the oldest inn in Europe. There is proof that it is 
the oldest in the City of London. There, at the most northerly gate of 
the City, it stood already in early Plantagenet times. It changed its 
name and became * The Mermaid ' in 1530. In 1651 it was called 
* The Fountain ' ; after the crushing defeat of Preston Pans a Royalist 
owner dubbed it * The Mourning Bush '. And so it remained until 
1874, when for some reason it suddenly became * The Lord Raglan '. 
So it is called to-day. But the glorious cellars that still remain are as 
Shakespeare knew them. The tavern stands at the blunted angle of 
Aldersgate and Gresham Street, and it harbours some thirty feet or more 
of the original London Wall. 

When William Shakespeare came to London the landlord of * The 
Mermaid ' was a man who would have meant much to any literary 
aspirant of that day. 

His name was William Goody eare, author of * The Voyage of the 
Wandering Knight, Showing the Whole Course of Man's Life, How apt 
he is to follow Vanity, and how hard it is for him to attain unto Virtue* 

But more important than this was his kinship with the great 
Warwickshire family, the Gooderes, ever nobly associated with the 
life-history of Shakespeare's famous contemporary Michael Drayton. 
Sir Henry Goodyear or Goodere, of Polesworth, had adopted Drayton 
when he was a small child, 

... a proper goodly page, 
Much like a pigmy, scarce ten years of age. 


Drayton 's love for Anne, afterwards Lady Rainsford, is enshrined in his 
sonnet-sequence entitled * Idea '. 

j It may be accepted that when in London Drayton often visited 
Anne's kinsman ; and Shakespeare must often have spent a convivial 
evening with him at this * Mermaid '. Surely in 1604, when the great 
dramatist was lodging with Christopher Mountjoy in Silver Street, he 
must have visited the famous cellars which, even in his day, were an 
old-world haunt. 

We know that in 1603 Michael Drayton from this tavern witnessed 
the entrance of the King into the capital of his new kingdom. This 
we know from his ill-fated Gratulatory Poems and Paean Triumphal. 

This old-world haunt should be brought to notice, I think, on this 
occasion. It has hitherto been forgotten. 




SHAKESPEARE on his journeys between London and Stratford, and 
on his theatrical tours, must have got to know Oxford well. But his 
associations were with the City, not the University. Some of the 
warmest tributes during his lifetime to his * quality * are from the pen 
of John Davies, who had settled in Oxford as a calligrapher. And the 
familiar early tradition makes him an intimate of the family of John 
Davenant, landlord of the Crown Inn, who was mayor of the city in 
1621. Probably one of Davenant 's predecessors was present at the 
Oxford performance of Hamlet, for the Corporation was then enter 
taining touring companies, while the University was paying them to 
leave its precincts. The academic authorities had their own plays and 
amateur stage, and were anxious to keep professional histriones at a 
distance. The company to which Shakespeare belonged was one of 
those which was thus bribed to take itself off. 

Hence Shakespeare had little reason to love the University, and we 
must not expect from him the glowing words that Greene puts into the 
mouth of the Emperor of Germany (of all people !) in Friar Bacon and 
Friar Bungay : 

These Oxford schooles 
Are richly seated neere the riuer side 

The toune gorgeous with high built colledges, 
And schollers seemely in their graue attire, 
Learned in searching principles of art. 

Though Henry VIII contains a noble tribute to Wolsey's great Oxford 

unfinish'd, yet so famous, 
So excellent in art and still so rising, 
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtues 

the lines are probably from the pen of Fletcher. 


The only direct reference by the dramatist to academic Oxford is 
in the conversation between the Gloucestershire Justices in 2 Henry IV : 

Shallow. I dare say my cousin William is become a good scholar. He is at Oxford 
still, is he not? 

Silence. Indeed, sir, to my cost. 

It would seem that Shakespeare had heard more of the expense 
than of the benefits of a University education. Yet he was naturaliter 
Oxoniensis a lover of classical philosophy, history, and poetry, though 
he had to read his Plato, his Plutarch, and much of his Ovid (even if the 
Bodleian 1502 copy of the Metamorphoses was once his) at second or 
third hand. Like Holinshed, from whom he learnt the annals of his own 
country, his interest was in Kings, not in Parliaments, and, had he lived, 
he would doubtless have taken the side of Oxford in the Civil War. 
The creator of Hamlet and Brutus knew the strength and the weakness 
of the academic attitude to life. Prospero, to whom his study was 
more than his dukedom, is the type of all who have deemed the 
world well lost for the life of contemplation. And Orlando, Bassanio, 
and their fellows, are they not akin to those who drink deep, age after 
age, of ' the joys of Oxford living ' ; and who, though they be 

Young men whom Aristotle thought 
Unfit to learn moral philosophy, 

learn by the banks of the Isis something of the true issues and perspec 
tive of life ? It is a strange irony that they should have ever been for 
bidden to attend plays that hold up the mirror to their own best selves. 

But in spite of pains and penalties, undergraduates, and even their 
seniors, doubtless sometimes stole forth to see performances by travelling 
companies, or smuggled the quarto play-books from the London presses 
into college rooms and cloisters. The witty St. John's author of Nar 
cissus (1602-3) was familiar with / Henry IV and A Midsummer Night's 
Dream. Nicholas Richardson of Magdalen even quoted twice, in 1620 
and 1621, from St. Mary's pulpit the passage in Romeo and Juliet 
beginning : 

"Tis almost morning, I would have thee gone; 
And yet no further than a wanton's bird : 

* applying it to God's love to his saints either hurt with sin or adversity, 
never forsaking them.' 

The Balcony scene, in which these lines come, was (as Bodley 's Libra 
rian has told us) the favourite episode in Shakespeare's plays with young 
Oxford readers in the time of Charles I. For when a copy of the First 


Folio reached the Bodleian in 1623, was bound by William Wildgoose and 
chained in the * Arts End ' of the library, the page that faced this scene 
became more worn by use than any other. Next to Romeo and Juliet 
the most popular plays with Bodleian readers seem to have been Julius 
Caesar, Macbeth, and / Henry IV. Yet it was against the Founder 's 
wishes that the library contained the First Folio at all. Sir Thomas Bodley 
held the orthodox academic opinion of his day, shared even by some 
of the best neo-Latin dramatists, that * English plaies * were * baggage ' 
books, not worthy of a place on library shelves. Fortunately, however, 
under his agreement with the Stationers' Company in 1610-11, a copy 
of the priceless volume was sent to the Bodleian, where it remained till 
the Third Folio, with seven additional plays, appeared in 1664. Then 
the First Folio became a * superfluous book', and Oxford saw it no more 
for two centuries and a half. Its chance return, its * recognition ' on the 
approved principles of Attic drama, and its re-purchase at a great price, 
form a romance too fresh in memory to need telling here. 

It is astonishing that while it lay open to Bodleian readers, though 
some, like Burton, quoted from it, only one seems to have paid a tribute 
to Shakespeare in an Oxford publication. In 1640 a tragedy by Samuel 
Hartlib, B.A., of Exeter College, was issued, with the customary verse 
prefaces by admiring friends. Among them was Nicholas Downey of 
the same college, who declared that * sad Melpomene ' 

Casts off the heavy buskins, which she wore, 
Quickens her leaden pace, and runnes before, 
Hyes to pale Shakespeare's urne and from his tombe 
Takes up the bayes, and hither is she come. 

Whatever may be thought of Downey's critical perception in looking 
upon Sicily and Naples as the lineal successor to Hamlet or Macbeth, 
he at any rate recognized that Shakespeare was the great exemplar of 
tragic art. 

About forty years later John Aubrey, the Oxford antiquary, in the 
MS. notes which form the first * brief life ' of the dramatist, emphasized 
his comic genius : * His Comedies will remaine witt as long as the 
English tongue is understood, for that he handles mores hominium* 
And in a miscellany * by Oxford Hands ' (1685) he was promised, 
with a touch of patronage, eternal fame with * matchless Jonson ' 
and * lofty Lee ' : 

Shake'spear, though rude, yet his immortal wit 
Shall never to the stroke of time submit. 


In the same year the Fourth Folio was published, and on it (with three 
additions) Gerard Langbaine based his list of the dramatist's plays in 
his Account of the English Dramatick Poets, published at Oxford in 1691. 
Though his detailed criticisms are unilluminating, his general tribute 
to Shakespeare's genius is more unqualified than any that had yet come 
from an Oxford pen. He does not hesitate to place him on a higher 
level than even Jonson or Fletcher, and boldly avows that he esteems 
his plays * beyond any that have ever been published in our Language '. 

In the same year Langbaine became Architypographus of the 
University Press, but he died in 1692, and the world had to wait till 
1744 for the first Oxford edition of Shakespeare's plays. As the Vice- 
Chancellor, Walter Hodges, wrote his imprimatur on its title-page on 
March 26, the shades of his Elizabethan predecessors might well have 
looked over his shoulder in agonized reproof. For the University was 
issuing the * baggage books ' in six sumptuous volumes, finely printed, 
adorned with engravings, and edited (though anonymously) by no less a 
person than a former Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Thomas 
Hanmer. As * one of the great Admirers of this incomparable Author ' 
he professed to offer ' a true and correct edition of Shakespeare's works 
cleared from the corruptions with which they have hitherto abounded '. 
The claim cannot be sustained, for he mainly followed Pope and 
Theobald, and his emendations were merely the result of his own in 
genuity. But in spite of its critical deficiencies Hanmer 's edition was, in 
his own phrase, the first ' monument ' raised to Shakespeare in Oxford. 

It won an enthusiastic welcome from William Collins, then a demy 
of Magdalen, who declared that the editor had done for Shakespeare 
what * some former Hanmer ' had done for the scattered Homeric lays. 
Collins 's Epistle, wherein Shakespeare is hailed as * the perfect boast of 
time' uniting * Tuscan fancy' and * Athenian strength', was naturally 
included in the second edition of Hanmer 's work, issued in 1770-1. 

It is curious that for almost a century from this date, except for 
a six-volume edition by Joseph Rann, a Coventry Vicar, in 1786, no 
work bearing on Shakespeare came from the University Press. Neither 
the general revival of interest in the Elizabethans due to Coleridge, 
Lamb, and Hazlitt, nor the presentation to the Bodleian in 1821 of 
Malone's magnificent collection of Shakespeariana, including the four 
Folios, seems to have stimulated Shakespearian research at Oxford. 

But Keble's Latin Praelectiones, when he was Professor of Poetry 
(1832-41), contain so many incidental references to the plays, especially 
Hamlet, and comparisons between Greek and Elizabethan dramatic 



methods that we regret there is no lecture on * Shaksperus noster ', 
* Tragcedorwn tile princeps ' by the author of The Christian Year. Nor 
did the greatest of Keble's successors, Matthew Arnold (1857-67), 
discourse on Shakespeare except incidentally in illustration of * the grand 
style '. It was not till our own day that * Shakespearian Tragedy ' was 
illuminated from the Chair of Poetry, and that Shakespeare as a ' Man 
of Letters ' was interpreted by the first Oxford Professor of English 

When the University Press at last broke silence it spoke with a 
voice other than its own. W. G. Clark and Aldis Wright, who had 
recently completed the ' Cambridge Shakespeare ', brought out in 1868 
the first Clarendon Press edition of a single Shakespearian play. It was 
The Merchant of Venice, followed by fifteen others, of which the twelve 
after 1874 were edited by Wright alone. Their exact and fastidious 
scholarship has given them classic rank, but was * caviare ' to the 
schoolboys and schoolgirls into whose hands they have largely come. 
They began that intimate connexion between the University Press and 
Shakespearian study which has been so marked a feature of recent 
years. It is to this that we owe an ' Oxford Shakespeare ' in one volume ; 
facsimiles of the First Folio and the Poems ; editions of the Shakespeare 
Apocrypha and of the works of many of the dramatist's contem 
poraries ; a Shakespeare Glossary founded on the great Dictionary ; 
and a monograph on Shakespearian punctuation. 

But a playwright can only come fully into his own on the stage. 
The tradition of hostility to the theatre, inherited from Tudor times, 
lingered in the University long after the colleges had ceased to act plays. 
The City, on its part, discontinued its support of touring companies. 
Hence the theatre in Oxford from the eighteenth to the later nineteenth 
century fell upon evil days. Where Hamlet had once been acted, play 
goers were offered the ribaldry of a low-class music-hall. But the 
dramatic revival in the later Victorian period did not leave Oxford 
untouched. The performance of the Agamemnon in Greek at Balliol in 
1880 encouraged those who were struggling to give English drama a 
worthier place in academic life. They gained their end when Jowett, as 
Vice- Chancellor, authorized public performances by undergraduates of 
Greek or Shakespearian plays. In December, 1883, The Merchant of 
Venice was produced, and the event had greater significance in Oxford 
annals than probably any of those present (including the writer of this 
article) fully realized. For the first time a play of Shakespeare was 
acted by members of the University in the Town Hall, and the 



performance thus symbolized the close of the historic feud between the 
academic and civic authorities concerning stage-plays. But the drama 
in Oxford needed a home of its own, and on February 13, 1886, the 
New Theatre was opened with a production of Twelfth Night, the first 
of a long series of Shakespearian revivals. 

If therefore the dramatist, like the Ghost of Hamlet the elder 
(a part probably played by him at Oxford), were to revisit the glimpses 
of the moon in this Tercentenary year, he would find himself strangely 
welcome in the groves of Academe. With memories of the past thick 
upon him he would steal into the city, half fearful lest some new Mar- 
cellus might strike at him with his partisan. But where he had once, 
as a travelling player, to endure ' the insolence of office ', he would be 
greeted with reverent homage, and would be made free of the sanctuary 
of learning whose guardians had of old driven him and his professional 
comrades from her gates. 




AT some date in or before 1603 the Tragicall Historic of Hamlet 
Prince of Denmarke, as the title-page of the First Quarto edition declares, 
was acted by his Highnesse servants in the City of London and in the 
Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. The reference may be to the 
two University towns, but it was a practice by no means uncommon 
for academic authorities to engage professional actors to exhibit their 
quality in College Halls, and as Shakespeare was one of the players of 
the company in question, and is reputed to have taken the Ghost's part 
in Hamlet, it is quite possible that he visited either University in a 
professional capacity. Slight enough, no doubt, was the knowledge of 
University life which he acquired under such conditions. Apart from 
the Fletcherian reference to Oxford and Ipswich in Henry VIII, he 
alludes to Oxford University but once, never to Cambridge. 

And yet in the decade 1590 to 1600 there is ample evidence that 
Shakespeare was profoundly interested in academic life, and even had 
a rather particular acquaintance with the usages and parlance of English 
Universities. His plays of that time are full of University matters. 
The scene is laid in France or Germany or Italy at Rheims or Witten 
berg or Padua or he conjures up a fanciful * academe ' in Navarre. 
But the scene little matters. Universities all over Europe were so much 
alike in 1600 that any of them might stand for Cambridge or Oxford, 
and I think that Master William Silence, who cost his father so much 
money at Oxford, was in very fact a * school-fellow ' of Lucentio, whose 
father had cause to complain that he and his sizar, Tranio, were spending 
all at the University of Padua. 

Shakespeare's University plays are all of his earlier dramatic time. 
First is Love's Labour y s Lost (1591) with its ' little Academe ' of Navarre, 
whose fantastic statutes, three years' residence and compulsory sub 
scription are so delightfully travestied from the conditions of Eliza 
bethan Universities. Next in the Tzvo Gentlemen of Verona, Antonio 
debates, as the fathers of Sidney and Essex might have done, whether 
to send his son to a studious University or to the court. In the Taming 


of the Shrew there is Lucentio, who comes to Padua, vowed to apply 
himself to Aristotle's checks, and ends by professing the Art to Love. 
The * premeditated welcomes of great clerks ' which are offered to 
Theseus in the Midsummer Night's Dream have reference to such per 
formances as * entertained ' Elizabeth at Cambridge in 1564. The same 
matter crops up in Hamlet, where Polonius tells of the * brute part ' which 
he enacted in a University play ; and Hamlet himself is a truant from 
Wittenberg * school '. After Nestor's reference to * degrees in schools ' in 
Troilus and Cressida Shakespeare has no more to say about Universities. 

Oxford City must have been familiar to Shakespeare in his frequent 
journeys between Stratford and London, but it is an odd fact that the 
University usages and phrases which he was acquainted with are those of 
Cambridge rather than Oxford. The reason is obvious. The Parnassus 
plays so full of references to Shakespeare tell us of the lure of the 
stage for Cambridge graduates who had no prospect of preferment in 
the University or the learned professions. Among such graduates who 
drifted from Cambridge to the London tiring-house and there made 
Shakespeare's acquaintance were Robert Greene, who left the University 
in 1583, M.A. of Clare, but originally of St. John's; Thomas Nash 
Ingenioso of the Parnassus plays also a Johnian, B.A. in 1586, who 
' after seven yere together, lacking a quarter ' quitted Cambridge with 
out taking his Master's degree ; and Kit Marlowe, of Corpus, who 
graduated M.A. in 1587 ; to say nothing of John Day, of Caius, and 
other Cambridge dramatists. After 1601 the three former men had 
fretted their hour and were seen no more. Pickled herrings and Rhenish 
wine ended Greene in 1592 ; Francis Archer's dagger did for Marlowe 
in 1593 ; and Nash, after sojourn in the Fleet prison, died in 1601. 

So with Hamlet ends, not begins, University talk in Shakespeare. 
But in and about 1590, when he was perhaps collaborating with Marlowe 
in Titus Andronicus and The Third Part of Henry VI ", when Marlowe 
and Greene were busy with their plays connected with University fiction, 
Faustus and Friar Bacon , when Nash in his preface to Greene's Mena- 
phon was addressing * the Gentlemen Students of both Universities ', 
we may be sure that in the tiring-room or the tavern Shakespeare heard 
much Cambridge talk, and hearing laid to heart, Something he may 
have gathered from his patron, Southampton, M.A. of St. John's in 
1589, and something from the players and minor playwrights among 
whom were Cambridge men : the names of William Kempe, Robert 
Gough,and Richard Robinson, all of them in the First Folio list of players, 
occur also in the catalogue of Cambridge graduates of 1584 to 1592. 


Of specially Cambridge phrase there is little or nothing in Faustus 
or Friar Bacon. It is the more remarkable that it repeatedly crops out 
in Shakespeare's plays. To Cambridge ears there is a familiar ring in 
the line of Titus Andronicus : 

Knock at his study, where, they say, he keeps. 

4 Keep ' in the sense * dwell ' is, of course, common enough in Eliza 
bethan English. But in its association with * study ' I think that it had 
its suggestion in Cambridge parlance. * Study ' was the regular Cam 
bridge name for the closet-space allotted to the individual student in 
the common room. 

From the earliest days to times comparatively recent a candidate 
for a degree at Cambridge was required to maintain a syllogistical 
dispute in the schools, which disputation was called * the Act '. If he 
was successful and admitted to the full privileges of a graduate he was 
said * to commence ' in Arts or a Faculty, and the ceremony at which 
he was so admitted was, and is, called at Cambridge * the Commence 
ment '. If the candidate went on to a higher degree he was said * to 
proceed '. Remark how Shakespeare brings these three terms together 
in Timon's speech to Apemantus (Timon of Athens , Act iv, sc. iii) : 

Hadst thou, like us from our first swath proceeded 
The sweet degrees that this brief world affords . . . 
Thy nature did commence in sufferance, time 
Hath made thee hard in't. 

* Commence ' and c act ' seem to have an inevitable attraction for one 
another, the one word suggesting the other, not always consciously. 
Thus in Falstaffs praise of sack : 

Learning is a mere hoard of gold till sack commences it and sets it in act and use : 

and in the Induction of The Second Part of Henry IV Rumour says : 

I ... still unfold 
The acts commenced on this ball of earth : 

and again in The Second Part of Henry VI, 

As Ascanius did, 

When he to madding Dido would unfold 
His father's acts commenced in burning Troy. 

But the clearest evidence that it was from Cambridge, not from Oxford, 
that Shakespeare learnt University phrase is in Lear's complaint to 
Regan of his usage by Goneril : 

'Tis not in thee ... to scant my sizes. 


' Size ' is the Cambridge word for a certain quantity of food or drink 
privately ordered from the buttery, and traces its origin to the old assize 
of bread and ale. The word and its derivatives * sizar ', ' a sizing ', and 
the verb * to size ' are quite peculiar to Cambridge and its daughter 
Universities of Dublin, Harvard, and Yale. Minsheu (1617), quoted 
in the New English Dictionary, says : * A size is a portion of bread and 
drink : it is a farthing which schollers in Cambridge have at the buttery : 
it is noted with the letter S, as in Oxford with the letter Q for halfe a 
farthing.' The * abatement ' of sizes was a College punishment, alterna 
tive to * gating ', to which there seems to be allusion in Lear's next words 
' to oppose the bolt against my coming in \ 


S 2 



What, Hal ! How now, mad wag ! what a devil dost thou in Warwickshire ? 

/ Hen. IV* IV. ii. 

MEMORY holds a store of sharp-edged pleasures for the country- 
born. Those who have picked oxslips from the bank and * violets dim * 
in childhood ask no more of Paradise. Shakespeare knew the farmer's 
and shepherd's world hard by * Cotsall ', where * every 'leven wether 
tods ', l and sacks are lost at * Hinckley fair '. Only book-learned town- 
dwellers, ignorant of all the peasant's heritage of ancient lore, could 
conceive of a better upbringing for a poet and playwright than this. 2 
Artistically Shakespeare was of the people. That is why he refused 
to be entirely swept away, like lesser men, by the incoming tide of the 
learning of ' ancient Greece ' and * haughty Rome '. 

Moreover he was born in happy hour, when the country-side was 
not dead to the arts as it is now. The impulse the * old ' Church had 
given to music and to drama was not wholly spent, and folk-festivals, 
ancient with the immemorial age of heathen magic, gave occasion for 
traditional dance and play and song. It is true that Shakespeare's 
lifetime saw the professionalizing of the stage and the passing of folk- 
play and church-play, but in his boyhood acting was still a people's art. 
Captain Cox led out the * good-hearted men ' of Coventry in the folk- 
play of Hox-Tuesday before Elizabeth at Kenilworth, Herod of Jewry 
put in his great voice all the megalomania of tyrants from the founda 
tion of the world, and the village youth at Pentecost still played their 
4 pageants of delight '. Not that even these players could escape the 
all-pervading atmosphere of classic story. Robin Hood and his tradi 
tional merry company of the greenwood might figure in the Whitsun 
pastorals, but the most moving scene was that 

Of Ariadne passioning 
For Theseus' perjury and unjust flight. 

1 Winter's Tale, IV. ii. 

2 Mr. Greenwood, in Is there a Shakespeare Problem .^ argues that Stratford furnished 
no ' culture ' for a * rustic '. 


The truth is that all Warwickshire that touch the great roads, 
that cross the county from side to side, was accessible to the ideas of 
the larger world. Shakespeare was no dweller in dreary uplands where 
no travellers pass ; like his own Orlando he was * inland bred '. Along 
midland highways came the throng of puppet-show and ape-bearers, 
tumblers, bearwards, and musicians, 1 and also the intellectual aristocracy 
of the highway, the Queen 's servants or my lord of Leicester's players, 
who for two hours' space could fill the guildhall or the inn-yard with 
Greece and Italy, kings and clowns, and all the wide compass of the 
earth and heaven. 

Was it after a scene like this that the restlessness of youth and the 
pull of London took him from his own people ? Yet he came back. 
So Warwickshire, which gave him ' birth ' and taught him all the life 
and tradition of the country-side, so that in his country scenes there 
seems gathered up all the age and sweetness of England, gave him 
* sepulture ' also at the last. 

1 The Coventry Chamberlains' accounts from 1574 contain scores of entries of 
payments to travelling 1 entertainers. One entry has ' To hym that hath the poppitts 
& Camell xs.' See for the folk- festivals Chambers's Mediaeval Stage. 






Gracious England hath 
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men. 

Macbeth ;, IV. Hi. 189-90. 

ON these cold hills had wak'd no flower of song 
In darkened l Celtic or clear English tongue, 3 
When in imprisoned loneliness a king, 
Turning an illumin'd page, heard Chaucer sing 
Of Arcite, Palamon, and Emilye, 
Of Biela-co-il, Daunger and Curteisye, 
Of Fortune's cruel wheel, of Love more stern : 
' The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne, 
The assay so hard, so sharp the conquering 
Al this mene I by love, that my felyng 
Astonieth with his wonderful working, 
So sore y-wis that when I on him think 
Not wot I wel wher that I flete or sink/ 
Back to the North that exiled monarch brought 
Love, and the love of song, the subtle thought, 
Well-ordered words and interwoven rhyme, 
Colours of * rhetorike ', syllables that keep time 
In cadenced music to a beating heart, 
And in the ' King's Quhair ' flowered a nation's art. 
Chaucer sang clear in Scottish tune and phrase, 
Or told again on loud, chill northern days 3 

1 Regarded from the point of view of English-speaking peoples, who have seldom 
mastered the tongue of their Celtic neighbours. 

2 No really artistic poetry. In verse the writer has taken the liberty to touch only 
salient features, omitting much that would be requisite to a sober history. 

The Northin wind had purifyit the Air, 
And sched the mistie cloudis fra the skte; 
The froist fresit, the blastis bitterly 
Fra Pole Artick come quhisling loud and schill. 

Henryson : The Testament of Cresseid. 

H. J. C. GRIERSON 267 

Of ' glorious Troylus ' and fair Cresseid, 
Fickle and false, how she a leper died. 
In Dunbar's * aureate terms ' and riotous rhymes 
A dying splendour lit brave James's times, 
Last King who in the old way to Lady kneel'd , 
And died, as Roland died, on Flodden field. 

From Scotland ebbed the tide of song, the day 

Which broke with James with James faded away. 

But in the town where Chaucer by the Thames 

Kept his ' red-lined accounts ', or saw at games, 

Upon her meadows green with daisies pied, 

The King of Love, Alcestis by his side, 

And by that stream, now other poets sung 

To Chaucer's lyre retuned, with golden tongue, 

Of stately swans, and maidens gathering posies 

Of virgin lilies and of vermeil roses 

* Against the brydale day which was not long ; 

Sweet Themnes ! runne softly, till I end my song ; * 

Sang of Love's lordship, and how Astrophell 

In Stella's kiss drank from the Muses' well. 1 

A Scottish poet conned that well-woven strain 

And, but in alien speech, he too was fain 

To sing of love by Death 2 annulled, and love 

Which flows from earth back to its source above. 3 

Of Sidney's, Spenser's pipe an echo rung 

Through Hawthornden when William Drummond sung. 

1 I never drank of Aganippe's well . . . 

How then? sure this it is 
My lips are sweet, inspired with Stella's kiss. 

Sidney, Astrophel and Stella, Ixxiv. 

2 Drummond's Sonnets, &c., on Miss Cunningham, written before and after her death. 

3 Leave me, O, Love! which reachest but to dust; 

Then, farewell, World ! Thy uttermost I see ! 
Eternal Love! maintain thy life in me! 

Sidney, Astrophel and Stella, ex. 

Compare Drummond's Mania, or Sp^r^t^tal Poems. 


Then Shakespeare came, and the soft, pastoral stream 
Of English song, sweet as midsummer dream, 
Floated far out and widened to a sea 
Life-giving, life-reflecting ; fresh and free ; 
Stinging and salt and bitter ; now a-dance 
In sun-steeped bays of comedy and romance ; 
Anon 'neath skies whose hurrying cloud-rack hides 
The consoling sun, in chafe of clashing tides, 
And thunder of the storms that vex and mar 
Rolling its surf-lit waves toward Fate's fixed star. 
And all those waves were lives of passionate men : 
The unpitying, unpitied soul of Richard ; then 
Hamlet's sore spirit that suffered scarce knowing why ; 
Love's perfect martyr, the * free and open ' Moor ; 
lago damn'd and Desdemona pure ; 
Proud Coriolanus ; and mighty Antony 
Dying in a kiss on Cleopatra's knee ; 
The supreme agony of outraged Lear ; 
And with these, shaken by remorse and fear, 
The spectre-haunted Scottish thane, and she 
Through whose strong soul in dreams alone we see. 

So Scotland woke to fame in Shakespeare's page, 

Land of the * blasted heath ' where tempests rage 

And witches roam, of ancient castles too 

Where swallows build, which gentle breezes woo. 

And when in Scotland poetry woke again, 

From Shakespeare came the new heart-searching strain. 

His ' wood-notes wild ' their sweetest echo found 

In the Lark's song that soared from Scottish ground. 

From Shakespeare Scott the inspiration drew 

Peopled his page with such a motley crew. 

It was not given him to evoke again 

The moving vision of great souls in pain, 

H. J. C. GRIERSON 269 

But o'er his humbler characters and scenes, 

An Edie Ochiltree or Jeannie Deans, 

A summer breeze from Shakespeare's Arden sings, 

An echo of his genial laughter rings. 

Since Shakespeare who our * language had at large ' 

His anger or his mockery to discharge 

In torrent of words, in flaming figure and phrase, 

The high light and deep shadow of stormy days, 

As he the Rembrandt of our English prose, 

In whose rich page the life of history glows, 

On Mirabeau and ' sea-green Robespierre ', 

Louis, his hapless Queen, Frederick and Oliver, 

As in the round Globe theatre it shone 

On Richard, Henry, Faulconbridge and John ? 

So by this shrine the Scottish Muse may stand 
Holding her statelier sister by the hand. 
Bone of his bone, clay of his sacred clay 
Are we who face the welt 'ring storm to-day, 
One ' happy breed of men ', one * little world ' 
On whom the hissing waves of hate are hurl'd, 
The envy and hatred of * less happier ' men ; 
Yet see o'er English meadow and Scottish glen, 
On fields of France, and in far scatter 'd lands, 
Western sierras, Australasian strands, 
Mesopotamian marsh and African sands, 
Through April glow of pride and shadow of pain 
The sun of Shakespeare's England rise again. 




SOME years ago, when I was turning over the pages of Stanyhurst's 
Description of Ireland, the feeling was borne in on me that Shakespeare 
had been there before. At a time when the thoughts of the civilized 
world turn to Shakespeare with feelings of reverence and gratitude, 
it may be worth while to recall what was then noted, for it may tell us 
how Shakespeare came to think of Ireland ; and a knowledge of the 
source from which Shakespeare derived such knowledge of Ireland as 
he possessed may aid us in understanding what he has written. 

The Description of Ireland forms part of Holinshed's Chronicles, 
the storehouse which had furnished Shakespeare with plots for his 
Histories. From the Scottish part of the Chronicles he took the story 
of Macbeth. And in the well-worn Holinshed which he brought with 
him to New Place, he found the story of a British king which was the 
foundation of Cymbeline. In the Irish portion of the Chronicles he 
failed to discover material which might be usefully worked into History 
or Tragedy. But if he found no plot, he found what was to his purpose 
when he would introduce into one of his Histories, a typical Irishman, 
Welshman, and Scotchman. 

The stage Irishman of Ben Jonson and of Dekker was a comic 
footman. When Shakespeare presented an Irishman on the stage, he 
was a soldier and a gentleman. Captain Macmorris was * an Irishman, 
a very valiant gentleman, i' faith ' (Henry V, ill. ii. 71). 

It has been often noted that the character of Shakespeare's Welsh 
man has been drawn with greater care than his Irishman or his Scot. 
' Fluellen, the Welshman with his comic phlegm and manly severity, 
is the most elaborate of these figures.' 1 Fluellen was drawn from the 
life. Captain Macmorris may be described as a lay figure, clad in certain 
habiliments indicative of his nationality. Captain Macmorris whose 
name, a form of Macmorrough, was probably a reminiscence of the 
story of MacMorrough and O'Rorke's wife, as told by Holinshed 
appears in one scene only, in which his national characteristics are 

1 Dr. Brandes, William Shakespeare : a Critical Sfndy. 

D. H. MADDEN 271 

huddled one upon another * with impossible conveyance '. All of these 
characteristics will be found in Stany hurst's Description : ' Tish ill 
done/ cries Macmorris ; * the work ish give over, the trumpet sound 
the retreat. By my hand, I swear, and my father's soul, the work ish 
ill done ; it ish give over ; I would have bio wed up the town, so Chrish 
save me, la ! in an hour. . . . The town is beseeched, and the trumpet 
calls us to the breach ; and we talk, and be Chrish, do nothing : 'tis 
shame for us all ; so God sa' me, 'tis shame to stand still ; it is shame, 
be my hand ; and there is throats to be cut.' 

Such is Shakespeare's Macmorris, Miles Gloriosus. Stanyhurst's Irish 
man is * an excellent horseman, delighted with wars ', and * verie glorious '. 

Captain Macmorris falls into a rage at a remark of Fluellen, which 
if he had been allowed to finish it, would probably have proved in 
offensive enough. 

Fluellen. Captain Macmorris, I think, look you, under your correction; there is 
not many of your nation 

Macmorris. Of my nation ! What ish my nation ? Ish a villain and a bastard, and a 
knave, and a rascal what ish my nation ? Who talks of my nation ? 

' The Irishman ', says Stany hurst, * standeth so much on his gentilitie 
that he turneth anie one of the English sept and planted in Ireland 
Bovdeagh Galteagh ! that is English Churle ! ' Hence it was that Shake 
speare derived his conception of an Irish gentleman, valorous, * verie 
glorious ', choleric, standing upon his dignity as a gentleman, and ready 
to resent an imaginary insult to his nation. 

Richard Stanyhurst was a fine scholar, educated at the famous 
school at Kilkenny which was in later years the school of Swift, Berkeley, 
and Congreve. He is placed with Spenser among the poets of the day 
by Gabriel Harvey. He was with Harvey one of the little knot of pedants 
who tried to * reform ' English poetry by forcing it into conformity with 
the laws of the classical metres, and his reputation would stand higher 
if he had not ventured on a translation of the Aeneid of Virgil into 
English hexameters. There is much in the Description to interest 
a reader so eager for information as Shakespeare, and many things that 
he read there held a place in his memory. * We shall lose our time/ 
says Caliban to his co-conspirators against his wonder-working master, 
* and all be turned to barnacles, or to apes ' (Tempest, iv. i. 248). Various 
books have been suggested by commentators, including Gerard's Herbal 
(1597), which might have suggested to Shakespeare the marvel of the 
barnacle. They need not have gone beyond a book that Shakespeare 
certainly had studied, his Holinshed, for in it the story of the barnacle 


is to be found told in a manner which was likely to remain fixed in his 
memory. ' The inhabitants of Ireland are accustomed to move question 
whether barnacles be fish or flesh, and as yet they are not fullie resolved, 
but most usuallie the religious of strictest abstinence doo eat them on 
fish daies.' According to Giraldus Cambrensis and Polychronicon the 
* Irish cleargie in this point straie '. Stany hurst, loyal to his country, 
defends the Irish clergy, holding ' according to my simple judgement 
under the correction of both parties that the barnacle is neither fish 
nor flesh, but rather a meane between both ', and thereforth not * within 
the compasse of the estatute '. 

The interesting discussion which follows of the question whether 
there * should be anie living thing that was not fish nor flesh ' may have 
been present to Trinculo when he thus resolved the difficulty : 

What have we here ? a man or a fish ? dead or alive ? A fish : he smells like a 
fish ; a very ancient and fish-like smell ; a kind of not of the newest Poor-John. A strange 
fish ... I do now let loose my opinion ; hold it no longer : this is no fish. Tempest, II. ii. 26. 

Shakespeare was the first to use the word * bard ', which, in its 
origin, was applied to the Celtic order of minstrel poets, in the sense 
which is thus noted in the New English Dictionary, ' a lyric or epic poet, 
" a singer ", a poet generally.' The earliest instance of the use of the 
word in this sense which is quoted in the Dictionary, is the following 
passage in Antony and Cleopatra : 

Enobarbiis. Ho! hearts, tongues, figures, scribes, bards, poets, cannot 
Think, speak, cast, write, sing, number, ho! 
His love to Antony. III. ii. 16. 

His ' Holinshed ' told him of the Irish bards ; how * the lords and 
gentlemen stand in great awe * of a bard if he be not bountifully awarded, 
and some such discomfortable bard was present to the mind of Richard 
when he said, * A bard of Ireland told me once I should not live long 
after I saw Richmond * (Richard HI, rv. ii. 105). Stray reminiscences of 
Stany hurst's Description may be found scattered here and there through 
out the works of Shakespeare. There he found a eulogy of aqua vitae, 
praising it into the ninth degree, and enumerating twenty-four of its 
virtues, somewhat in the manner of FalstafFs commendation of sack. 
This may have suggested Master Ford's unwillingness to ' trust an 
Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle '. 

Now for our Irish wars: 

We must supplant those rough rug-headed kerns, 
Which live like venom where no venom else 
But only they have privilege to live. Richard 77, II. i. 156, 



This is the Irish policy put into the mouth of Richard, as he departs 
for Ireland. How came Shakespeare to speak of the native Irish with 
contempt as rug-headed kerns, and with hatred, as venom which 
St. Patrick had failed to expel ? A question to be asked, for Shakespeare 
is wont to attribute to characters in his play ideas and feelings which 
were present to his mind, and if another explanation of these words 
were forthcoming, it would be welcome. 

Shakespeare's kerns were * rug-headed ', and * shag-hair'd ', for he 
had read in the Description of Ireland of the * long crisped bushes of 
heare which they term glibs, and the same they nourish with all their 
cunning '. 

He had also read in Stanyhurst an account of * how Saint Patricke 
was mooved to expell all the venemous wormes out of Ireland ', a 
slanderous suggestion from the Dialogues of Alanus Copus ; ' Did 
fortasse inde a nonnullis solet nihil esse in Hibernia venenati praeter 

This suggestion is quoted with indignation by Stanyhurst, but 
Shakespeare, with dramatic propriety, put it into the mouth of Richard 
when he was about to carry out the drastic policy of warfare, followed 
by the * supplanting ' of the native Irish. To Irishmen it is satisfactory 
to know that Richard's speech is not to be attributed to Shakespeare's 
personal experience of Irishmen, but to his custom of making use, for 
the purpose of his dramas, of ideas suggested by some book which 
might happen to be before him at the time, or which recurred to his 
memory. As when writing The Tempest, he put into the mouth of 
Gonzalo, Montaigne's description of an ideal commonwealth, so, with 
greater dramatic propriety, he attributed to Richard an idea which 
attracted his attention as he read it in his Holinshed. 

Every link connecting Ireland with Shakespeare is deserving of note 
at this time, and another can be found in the earnest and successful 
study of his works, for which Ireland has been for many years dis 
tinguished. Malone was in the first ranks of Shakespearian scholars 
in the eighteenth century. The Right Honourable John Monck Mason, 
a well-known member of the Irish Parliament, was also known as a 
Shakespearian commentator, and as the author of a volume on the 
works of Beaumont and Fletcher. In later years Ireland has given to 
Shakespearian literature John Kells Ingram, Vice-Provost of Trinity 
College, Dublin, and Mr. Craig, editor of the Oxford Shakespeare. 
Edward Dowden will be gratefully remembered as the author of 
Shakespeare, His Mind and Art. These were all graduates of the 


University of Dublin, in which Edward Dowden was for many years 
Professor of English Literature. Plays of Shakespeare were often acted 
in the private theatricals which were a well-known feature of Irish 
society in the eighteenth century. A record of performances at a 
country house in the county of Kilkenny, in the year 1774, has been 
preserved. Four of Shakespeare's plays were presented. Sir Hercules 
Langrishe (the host), Henry Grattan and Henry Flood were the leading 
members of the company. Two playbills have been preserved ; one of 
Macbeth, in which Grattan took the part of Macduff, another of She 
Stoops to Conquer y in which it is interesting to find him in the part of 
Mrs. Hardcastle. 

To-day an earnest and active Dublin branch of the Empire 
Shakespeare Society celebrates the tercentenary of the Master's death ; 
with maimed rites, by reason of the war, but with love of the man, and 
gratitude for the priceless gift that the civilized world has received at 
his hands. 








How it fared with a Gael at Stratford-on-*A*von 

CEITHEARNACH de Mhuimhneach mhor mhodar- 
tha mhordhalach do bhi ann, agus do baineadh 
a gcuid talmhan 6 n-a shinnsearaibh, gur crochadh 

moran diobh agus gur dibreadh tar lear moran eile, 

preabaire nar mhaith aon rud do dhuine riamh do 
dheanfadh dioghbhail do. Agus tharla gur sheol 
an Chineamhain e go Sacsana, imeasg a namhad, dar 
leis. Agus thainig se go Stratford ar an abhainn, 
agus taidhbhrigheadh fis no aisling d6 ann sin. Agus 
ar n-eirghe dho as an aisling sin dubhairt se gur 
mhaith se do na Sacsanachaibh, agus go maithfeadh 
go deo, chomh fad agus bheadh se insan ait sin 
imeasg na ndaoine do chonnaic se in a aisling. Agus 
do nocht don Chraoibhm a bhfacaidh se ins an bhfis 
sin, agus do rinne an laoi. 

A great, proud, mo 
rose kerne, a Mun- 
ster man, who had 
sorely suffered, he 
and his folk; hatred 
was in his heart. The 
Sasanach were to him 
his enemies, and lo! 
by chance he found 
himself in their land, 
and he came to Strat 
ford on the Avon, or 
river, and there there 
was revealed to him a 
vision or a dream, and 
on rising up out of that 
vision he said that he 
forgave the Sasanachs, 
and would forgive 
them for ever, so long 
as he could be in that 
place amongst the 
people whom he saw 
in his dream. And 
he revealed what he 
had seen in that vision 
to the Creeveen, and 
he made this lay. 



x>o DAin tern' fAO$Al 
t)o CiomAin m6 dm* OAtle Anonn, 

CIA An Aic A scArfAi-oe m6 
ACc foijt 50 ScfACpoivo AH An ADAinn I 

Til n-AU liom SAcrAnA. "Do tutll 

A great trouble drove me from my home ; 
To what place should I come 

But east to Stratford on the Avon ! 


England was not liked of me, 

O'n njAe-oeAl, An cfj\ pn mAllACc cnom. But I remembered this not, 



n\6 AIJ\ pn 


t)l pUAC t>o'n $AU in/ C|\oit>e 50 buAn 
An t>fons te cluAin o'f-ig m6 50 torn. 
, Aj\1f, An pUAC r<" A 
m6 AS SctvACpojtt) Ap An AOAinn. 


"PA gluAifeACC fArti Ajt 
"Of uttieAf mo fuit, A'f ConnAc 
t)!of AS ScfAcpoft) Af An 


I at Stratford on the Avon. 


I brooded on my ills, 
But all this went away 
At Stratford on the Avon. 


On the stream in a boat 
I closed my eyes, and beheld a vision 
At Stratford on the Avon. 

ConnAic mft mdjUn CAi-oDpe AS CCACC 
AS fiuoAl le flACc AnAll 'f Anon:i, 

imCioll AH mo 
AS Steepen*) AH An 

SiGt> cusAm tlAtnlec, mAH x>o Of 

An UAIH 'oo ClAoi"0 polflniuf cnoir, 
'"Oul le hOpeliA, tirti AH tiim ; 


Conn AC An c-lu'OAi'Ce, fS^lA 'f f$iAn, 

A'f P^HCIA leif . t>A UAt A CeAnn, 
tH An Wf *nA full, A f f An ftiAt t)UAn ; 

t)iOf AS ScHACpont) AH An ADAinn. 


tAims Homeo le n-A 

ilumn Aoioinn 05, T>AH Horn, 

t>n&CAin r >tine An cj\it> ; 

t)fof AS ScpAcpopt) AH An AOAinn. 

Spectres saw I a-coming, 
Crowding round my boat 
At Stratford on the Avon. 


Here comes Hamlet 
As when he slew Polonius, 
With Ophelia hand in hand : 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


Shylock with scale and knife, 
Portia beside him, 
Death in his eye: 

I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


Romeo with his love 
And the Friar: 

I was at Stratford on the Avon. 




CotinAic m iff 'f 

An feAndif cffon ceAnn-eA-ocfom torn, 
B A DeifC DAin-t>iAt>At 'SA teAnAtfiAin 

t)lof AS ScfACpofo Af An ADAinn. 


Lear, his hair on the wind; 
Bent, light-headed, bare old man, 
And the fiendish daughters following himr 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 

An uAinciseAf nA $Afs 
AS ciom&nc foimpi A pf Of 
ua An cfeAn-fi$ Af UAff A fS*ne 
tHof AS Scf Atpofo Af An ADAinn. 

ConnAic me Obef on 'f A t\io$An 

A'f too'OAG CAOD teo. A$ A 
t>! ctoigeAnn A*f ctAf A Af Ait ' 

t)!of AS Scf Acpo^t) Af An 

ConnAic n\6 


*S An 
t)!of AS 

; t)f peAp cAot 

Cf10f A6-C|\6Af AC, Ann, 

An AtAinn. 

An OeAn t)enffeA6 65 t>An f6itf 

"Oo tACc An c-6At>, -oo t>! f! Ann, 
'S An tntipAC tiAf At outsofm 

t)iof AS Scf Acpoft) Af An 

"Do t>! mo -6A fuit -ouncA x>tut 

'S mo DAT) AS fiutAt Af t>^ff nA -oconn.. 
A6c ConnAC IAT> mAf -o'freicpmn tfl I 

t)iof AS Scf Acpofo Af An AtAinn. 


mAC 6m' fA-oAfc 
fin. CAmis cuitteA*0 Ann, 
5An fsit AS CCACC 50 ft of ; 
AS ScfAcpofo Af An ADAinn. 

t)'AitniseAf cutt), niof Aitm$eAf cum, 

"Oo t>! mo Cofp SAn tflt SAn meADAif, 
'S mo ffiit SAn tfiAfsuf, mAf freAf mAfo ; 

t)iof AS ScfAcpofO Af An 


Lo, the furious Lady 
Egging her feeble spouse, 
The old King's blood on her dagger-point 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


I saw Oberon and his Queen 
And the Clown with the ass head: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


A Countess too ; and the criss-cross gartered 

one was there, 

And the merry drunkard mocking him i 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


The Venetian lady, young, white, gentlej 
She too was there; 
And the Moor, noble, dark, tall: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


My eyes were shut, 
My boat was moving; 
I saw them as I might see you: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon, 


They passed away, 
Others came, 
A-coming all the time: 

I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


Some I knew and some not, 
My body had no feeling, 
My eyes were without sight like a dead man r 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 



A'f t>'imeis, -o'lmeis, 

, mAitfCACA A'f ctAnn, 

ipott, f eAn A> *s ; 

t)fof AS ScfACf.o|vo Af AH AOAinn. 


A'f pfionnfAl, CAftoois, 
fif fCACA, -OAOine finne 
CAiptfnf mdfA A'f cinceif! ; 

tMof AS ScfACfOfo A|\ An ADAinn. 



Vucc iAffAi-6 T>6if.ce, 
nUisx>ine f fttrfte, ceAnn 

tMof AS ScfAC^ofO Af An AOAinn 


T)o Dl-olf fin AS CCACC im' 

HI f AnAt-ofr f t A " A Atin 
T)o fiflfcAt mo OA|\c f tAt "oon rtiix> fin ; 

t)lof AS Scf ACf.ofo A|\ An AOAinn. 


tm f -OtAfO -ouine A 

mo t>A|\c A|\ f.AX> <5n 
SAC CAif Af f.A-0 -oo m' teAnmAin ; 
AS 8cfACf.ot\x> A|\ An ADAinn. 

Ann fin An cSitMteAn Aotoinn 

mAn Ot&C nA ^cf Ann, 
'f AS fl A f-tCAfs of cionn mo f <hle ; 

t)lOf AS SCfACJTOjVO Af An ADAinn. 

oe ibf eAp, mft Af mo IAISC ; 
tiAim " cA fAio An t>f ons ? " 

til fAID ACC Ced Af UA6CAf Ulf 56 ; 

t)iof AS ScfACfofo Af An ADAinn. 

"CA AlC AttlAin It)' tlf-f C A SACf Atn 

'TlA mblonn -oo nAmAit) mAot A*f t>Att, 

fAOf O SAnSAIT), f.UAt, f-OfmAX), 

'SI An AIC fm ScfACfOfT) Af An ADAinn. 


There came and went 
Fathers, mothers, children, 
Nobles and mean, old and young 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


Kings, princes, bishops, priests, 
Statesmen, folk who made sport, 
Captains, tinkers: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


Robed queens, courtiers, 
Beggars, clerics of the pen, 
Maidens, merchants: 

I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


All came round about me: 
They stayed not long, 
My barque moved too quickly: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon, 


I left them behind, 
My barque sails far from the band, 
Every ghost ceased to follow: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


Then came the beautiful fairy woman, 
Ti tania, like the blossom of the trees ; 
She laid her wand about my eyes: 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


With a start I awoke, 
I looked about Where were the folk? 
Nothing but a mist on the top of the waters : 
I was at Stratford on the Avon. 


There is one place in thy land, O Sasana, 
In which thy foe becomes blunt and blind, 
Free from all hate 
That is Stratford on the Avon. 




*oo fst^ot* wo 

A /Atbion nA DjrocAt 
ITU DUAiteAnn nArhAit) A^\ x>o 
C6g 6 cum Scf Acpoft) A|\ An ADAinn. 


f eit\se Af 

Cuitfine ACc fmuAfnce 
Seflt 6 50 Sc|\ACpo|vo Af An 


-f A t)'imif An T)p AOI fin o^Aoi'6cA(ic 
m6 ffof Anoif im* t^nn, 
'4 tff uiAiteAtfinAf Aim-fe 
tnfi AS Scf ACJ:OI\ I O AJ\ An At)Ainn. 


O Albion, 

If an enemy knock at thy door, 

Take him to Stratford on the Avon! 


And from his heart shall pass 
All ill will and the fever of hate, 
Mindful of nought but thoughts of that Druid : 
Yea, speed him to Stratford on the Avon. 


On me that Druid has worked a druidism, 
Which I now set down here in my verse: 
He has won pardon from me for his land: 
I at Stratford on the Avon. 


T 2 



THAT Shakespeare ever crossed the borders of Wales must be 
regarded as doubtful. It is on record that the company of actors to 
which he belonged once visited Chester, and they were often at Shrews 
bury, so that his eyes must have rested on the dim blue line of hills in 
the west, for the lowland dweller an old-time menace, but for the poet 
a land of faery and romance. No closer acquaintance with the country 
was needed to enable Shakespeare to create, as he does in Cymbeline, the 
atmosphere of the Welsh highlands, the clear, bracing air, the towering 
heights, the * rain and wind * of * dark December ', the * goodly days ' 
when it was a joy to bid * good morrow to the sun '. His mind seems, 
indeed, to play around Milford Haven with a peculiar affection : tell 
me, says Imogen 

how far it is 

To this same blessed Milford : and by the way 
Tell me how Wales was made so happy as 
To inherit such a haven 

lines which ring with a very different temper from the curt allusions in 
Richard II to Flint and the mysterious * Barkloughly '. Yet, even in 
this case, although local zeal has found in Hoyle's Mouth, near Tenby, 
the original of the cave of Belarius, it is not necessary to assume that 
there was personal knowledge of the scene. Milford Haven was famous 
throughout the Tudor period as the landing-place of the Earl of Rich 
mond in 1485, and for admirers of Robert, Earl of Essex, the district had 
the further interest that here, at Lamphey, their hero had spent his early 
days and made his best and closest friends. 

But if Shakespeare never set foot in Wales, it is beyond question 
that he met many Welshmen. Age-long barriers had broken down with 
the accession to the throne of the Tudors of Penmynydd, and during the 
sixteenth century the stream of migration from Wales into England had 
been unceasing, until at the death of Elizabeth Welshmen were to be 

J. E. LLOYD 281 

found in every department of English public life, as churchmen, soldiers, 
sailors, courtiers, merchants, travellers, and scholars. Some were men 
of good education, like Sir John Salisbury of Lleweni, one of the cul 
tured patrons of the writers of Shakespeare's circle, and Hugh Holland 
of Denbigh, the author of verses which are prefixed to the First Folio. 
Such might say with Glendower, 

I can speak English, lord, as well as you. 

Others, no doubt, spoke with an accent which bore testimony to their 
origin : their English, like Fluellen's, was not ' in the native garb ', 
making them easy targets for popular ridicule and fair game for the 
dramatist who wished to add to his gallery of eccentrics. It is not to 
be wondered at, then, that Shakespeare's wide compass of contem 
porary portraiture should include Welshmen : what is remarkable is 
that the painting should be so genial and sympathetic, as though the 
poet wished to record a conviction that the Welsh deserved honourable 
treatment, as a people whose solid virtues made ample amends for their 
little weaknesses and vagaries. All foolish deriders of the Welsh race 
are rebuked in Pistol's discomfiture, and the last word upon the subject 
is Gower's ' henceforth let a Welsh correction teach you a good Eng 
lish condition '. The poet's universal sympathy had dissolved the 
inborn prejudices of the Warwickshire rustic. 

It does not at all detract from the clarity of Shakespeare's insight 
and the breadth of his humanity in this matter that his attitude was in 
accord with the current fashion in court circles in his day. With a 
Welsh queen on the throne, who drew her descent in an uninterrupted 
male line from Ednyfed Fychan, the chief counsellor of Llywelyn the 
Great, it was natural that Wales should be in favour and that Welshmen 
should hold their heads high. When Henry V, on the strength of his 
birth at Monmouth, is made to say, 

For I am Welsh, you know, good countryman, 

he speaks as Elizabeth herself might have done, and we may, perhaps, 
conjecture that it was the rough loyalty of some Elizabethan Welshman 
which first suggested the honest, but uncourtly response : * By Jeshu, 
I am your majesty's countryman, I care not who know it ; I will confess 
it to all the 'orld.' But Shakespeare's study of the Welsh temperament 
is far from being a mere echo of the polite adulation of the court ; it 
bears witness to close observation, not only of tricks of utterance and 


idiom, but also of bearing and manner, of mental habit and moral out 
look. The first experiment was Glendower. Holinshed is, of course, 
responsible for his appearance in Henry IV, but Holinshed supplies no 
detail in the full-length portrait painted by Shakespeare, beyond a vague 
reference to ' art magike '. The 

worthy gentleman, 
Exceedingly well read and profited 
In strange concealments, valiant as a lion 
And wondrous affable and as bountiful 
As mines of India, 

is entirely the creation of the poet a dignified picture of the soldier 
and man of letters, not without a certain element of the bizarre, for 
Glendower takes himself very seriously and his superstitions are house 
hold gods, upon which no one may lay unhallowed hands. It would 
seem as though this first attempt to portray a Welshman had suggested 
a new field to Shakespeare, for in his next play The Merry Wives of 
Windsor he gives us another, of a more ordinary type, the Welsh parson 
and schoolmaster. Among the poet's teachers at Stratford was one 
Thomas Jenkins, and critics have not failed to see in him the original of 
Sir Hugh Evans. The character is, undoubtedly, drawn from life, and 
it may not be fanciful to read in it the malicious zest of an old pupil paying 
off the scores of many a year gone by. Yet the satire is not unkindly. 
Sir Hugh is peppery, a solemn corrector of other men's errors of speech, 
happily oblivious of his own, but he is very human, with his ' chollors ' 
and * trempling of mind ', his quaint medley of madrigal and psalm, and 
his generous readiness to make common cause with his rival, when he 
finds that both have been befooled. The part he plays is honest, if 
somewhat unclerical, and he has the true Welsh turn for edification : 
' Sir John Falstaff, serve Got and leave your desires, and fairies will not 
pinse you.' 

But Shakespeare's finished portrait of the Welshman is, assuredly, 
Fluellen, which followed quickly upon the heels of Sir Hugh Evans and 
may, perhaps, be regarded as a development of the earlier sketch. For 
this, also, an original has been found in Sir Roger Williams, a famous 
warrior of the Elizabethan age, who fought in France and in the Nether 
lands and was buried in 1595 in St. Paul's Cathedral. Colour is given 
to the suggestion by the fact that Williams was the author of a Brief 
Discourse of War which attained to some reputation ; like Fluellen, he 
was an authority upon the * disciplines of the wars ' and ' the pristine 
wars of the Romans '. Be this as it may, there is no more lovable figure 

J. E. LLOYD 283 

in Shakespeare than the Welsh captain si Henry V choleric, impetuous, 
born to set the world to rights, prodigal of his learning, and lavish of 
good advice, but inflexibly honest, valorous, patriotic, one whose zeal 
for righteousness is unfeigned and without malice. By Fluellen Welsh 
men of all ages are content to stand or fall ; they are willing that the 
world should laugh at his humours, for they know that in him Shake 
speare has given undying expression to the best qualities of the race to> 
which they belong. 



/ GOF 

BROS hil Taliesin ac Aneirin gynt, 
A wybu gyntaf yn yr ynys hon 
Gyfaredd can, a'i clywai'n lief y gwynt, 
Yn nhrydar adar, ac yn nhwrf y don, 
Dros wlad a noddai feirdd o oes i oes, 
A gadwai'n fyw drwy'r nos y dwyfol dan, 
A brofodd ias a gwynfyd cerdd a'i gloes, 
A arddel fyth yr enw o wlad y gan, 
Y dygaf hyn o ged i gof yr un 
A ganodd fel na chanodd bardd erioed, 
A dreiddiodd holl ddirgelion calon dyn : 
Allweddau'r enaid yn ei law a roed. 
Brenin y beirdd, fry ar ei orsedd hardd ; 
Fythol ddieilfydd, ddihefelydd fardd ! 






FOR the race of Taliesin and Aneirin of old, 

Who knew first in this isle 

The enchantment of song, who heard it in the cry of the wind, 

In the twitter of birds, and in the roar of the wave, 

For a land that cherished bards from age to age, 

That kept alive through the night the divine fire, 

That has felt the thrill and joy of song and its pang, 

That claims still the name of the land of song, 

I bring this tribute to the memory of one 

Who sang as no poet ever sang, 

Who penetrated all the secrets of man's heart : 

The keys of the soul were committed unto his hand. 

King of the bards, high on his stately throne ; 

Eternally incomparable, peerless bard ! 






NOD Awen a'i dihewyd 

Yw'r Bardd a ganodd i'r byd. 

Pwy rydd gwymp i'w hardd gampwaith ? 

Farweiddia nwyf arddun iaith ? 

Safon lien a'i hawen hi, 

Uchter cynrych Tair Canri'. 

Y gerdd ddygir i'w ddygwyl, 
I ddod yn hardd, daw yn wyl. 
Os cawn wen i ysgawnhau 
Llys hirnos mewn llusemau ; 
Tra'r huan eirian erys, 
Pa swyn i lamp sy'n ei lys ? 
Yn nen gwyl y Bardd arddun, 
Wele, mae'r Haul mawr ei hun ! 

Pencreawdr pynciau'r awen 

Ddramodol fyw, llyw ei Hen. 

Y ciliau biau bywyd, 

I'w lygad gwawl godai i gyd. 

Rhagoriaeth Gwir, a gwarth Gau, 

Rod i odd trwy'i Gymeriadau ; 

Y drych ar bob anian drodd, 

A'r iawn fathair ni fethodd : 

Saif eu cwrs i fywiocau 

Sel orysol yr oesau. 

Galwodd Ffug o leoedd ffawd 

I gyhoeddus gyhuddwawd ; 

Brenhinoedd a rhengoedd rhwysg 

Ddaw'n ebrwydd a'u hoen abrwysg ; 

*The Muse acclaims the 
Bard who sang for all 

Who shall raze his noble 
fabric or dull his words 
the glory of three cen 
turies ? 

With modest mien this 
solemn year, 

Let song exalt the poet- 

No glimmeringlamps cheer 
the gloom of Night's dark 

to gild the bard's undying 
day the Sun himself will 
shine forth. 

The drama's arch -creator, 
crowned, he sways the 
magic deeps; he knows 
the soul's dark cells ; 

Virtue and Truth, Shame 
and Wrong, in his pageants 
stalk before us ; 

from Nature he drew his 
word-pictures : 

his motley throng move us 
to laughter and tears. 

Falsehood he summons to 
the bar of scorn; 

he sets forth Kings, 

1 The marginal paraphrase is based on a metrical rendering in English by R. A. Griffith 
(Elphin), Esq., Merthyr Tydvil, Glam. 


Mwstr brwydrau, banllefau lion 
Camp cewri rhag cwymp coron; 
Daw'r Bradwr i wib-redeg 
Filain y diafl, a'i wen deg ; 
Try Eiddig yn ffyrnig ffest, 
O ymgernial mae gornest : 
Rhoi hyder eu heriadau 
Ar fin y dur fynnai dau ; 
Arglwyddes, oedd ddiafles ddig, 
Dyma'i nodau damniedig ! 
A brud cosb cai'i bradog hun 
Ddiosg camwedd ysgymun ; 
Ni cheir a'i rin ddewin ddaw 
A gudd halog ddeheulaw. 
Gwrendy dewr dan gryndod don 
Gwys sobredig ysbrydion ; 
Daw llais barnol bythol bau 
O lithoedd drychiolaethau. 


Ysbryd dwys i'w briod iau 
A rwym synnwyr Ymsonau : 
Try'n dyst yr enaid distaw 
Fod i ddyn ei ' fyd a ddaw '. 
Ymdyrr ar fy myfyr mwy 
Lif eneidiol, ofnadwy ! 
Tr diwaelod rhaid dilyn 
Meddyliau dyfnderau dyn : 
Ond os iddynt y suddaf, 
Suddo'n nes i Dduw a wnaf ; 
A ffoi i ddydd y ffydd ddi-wall 
Wyr fod erof fyd arall. 

Ni ddaw diwedd dihewyd 
I'r Bardd a ganodd i'r byd. 


rivals, fighting- bloody 
jowls ; 

the Lady, nightly raving 
in accents wild ; 

her guilty sleep by terror 
racked ; 

the warrior cowering with 
blenched cheek ; 

the phantoms muttering 
from the gloom. 

He links the spirit to the 
word of fate, and brings 
witness of a world to come. 

Depths unplumbed must 

still be sounded, 
where man's long-hidden 

thoughts are hid. 

To every heart shall aye 

be bound 
the Bard who sang for all ! 


J. O. WILLIAMS (Pedrog). 


IT is a subject for comment that Shakespeare, with all his shrewd tact 
for what constituted a good tale, never apparently felt drawn to the legend 
of Arthur. At all events, no one of his plays is based on that theme : 
and this becomes only the more strange when all things are considered. 
It was not that he ignored the national heroes : the existence of his 
Histories confutes that particular charge. Neither did he regard Celtic 
legend as unsuitable for the stage ; for he himself was master of * the 
fairy way of writing ', and moreover, he staged both Lear and Cym- 
beline with striking effect. Nor again, could it have been that the * noble 
and joyous history ' was ground unfamiliar to his rough audiences at 
the Globe. It was, on the contrary, one of those popular stories to 
which the dramatist was wont to turn for the raw material of his plays : 
and that it was not lacking in dramatic possibilities had already been 
shown by the success of the academic drama, The Misfortunes of Arthur 
(1587). Nevertheless, the fact remains that Britain's one great contri 
bution to the great world-stories was, for all practical purposes, neglected 
by Shakespeare, and the world is the poorer by at least one great drama. 

It would, however, be wrong to say that Shakespeare entirely 
ignores the Arthurian story : in his works are occasional references, 
of interest in themselves, but most interesting for the light they throw 
upon Shakespeare's attitude to that theme. The allusions are all of 
a humorous kind : they are uttered by Falstaff, Lear's Fool, Justice 
Shallow, and the like, and, taken together, they represent a coarse bur 
lesque of the old-world narrative. It is significant, to begin with, that 
Arthur and the Christian heroes are missing from the account of the 
Nine Worthies which occurs in Act V of Love's Labour '$ Lost (i. 123-4): 
their places there are taken by Hercules and Pompey, as if the great 
mediaeval figures had ceased to be of heroic rank. And such, indeed, 
is the suggestion of the references themselves, which all allude to the 
legend in light and ironical vein. Thus Falstaff enters the Boar's Head 
roaring a ballad of Arthur (2 Henry IV t n. iv. 32). It is Mistress 

J. W. H. ATKINS 289 

Quickly's belief that Falstaff in the end finds refuge in * Arthur's 
bosom ' (Henry V, n. iii. 10). Boyet, in brisk word-play, refers lightly 
to * Queen Guinever ' when * a little wench ' (Love's Labour 's Lost iv. 
i. 125). Justice Shallow recalls the time when he played * Sir Dagonet 
in Arthur's show ' (2 Henry IV, ill. ii. 285). Hotspur alludes impa 
tiently to Glendower's conversation, to his ceaseless chatter regarding 
' the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies ' (/ Henry IV, in. i. 150). 
Elsewhere a parody of those prophecies is supplied by the doggerel of 
Lear's Fool (King Lear in. ii. 80 ff.), while Kent alludes with scorn to 
Arthur's home at Camelot (King Lear n. ii. 85). 

Now the tone of these allusions is sufficiently plain : it suggests 
a theme that has been robbed of its freshness and glamour, a theme 
vulgarized and degraded through some mysterious cause. Of the 
romance of * the gray king ' no mention is made ; no hint is given of 
the high tragedy of Guinevere, or of the chivalry and prowess of * Lance 
lot or Pelleas or Pellenore '. Guinevere, instead, has become a flaunting 
quean, Merlin a tedious driveller : the foolish Sir Dagonet alone of 
Arthur's knights is recalled, while their exploits are likened to the 
driving of geese to Camelot. 

How then is one to account for this travesty of a splendid theme : 
on the part, too, of a poet who held within his gaze all that was beautiful 
and heroic in human life ? Is it the same elusive problem as is found 
in his treatment of Troilus ? It is not inconceivable that, where Arthur 
was concerned, some amount of depreciation was due to the Renaissance 
scorn for things mediaeval. Ascham had condemned the legend in 
downright terms : by him the deeds of the Round Table were summed 
up as * open manslaughter and bold bawdry e ' ; and Rabelais also had 
heaped ridicule on the old romance. But of greater significance still 
was that degraded medium through which Arthur's story was wont to 
reach the popular ear, and this factor indeed can be described as the 
decisive one. The legend had become the theme of a fallen race of 
minstrels, * singers upon benches and barrel-heads that gave a fit 
of mirth for a groat in taverns and ale-houses and such other places 
of base resort '. And the fumes of the ale-house still clung to the story, 
tarnishing its brightness and despoiling it of its dignity and tragedy 
alike. Outside popular circles the earlier vision remained. Sidney has 
a good word for ' honest King Arthur ', while Spenser presents him to 
the gentle reader as a prince of all the virtues. But Shakespeare wrote 
first and last for a popular stage and for a popular audience ; and in the 
matter of Arthur he has necessarily to take their views into account 


The theme once touched by popular ridicule, it became, for a popular 
audience, devoid of the heroic, and therefore incapable of dignified 

And this would seem to explain Shakespeare's attitude towards 
Arthurian romance, though it fails to meet the case of the Troilus bur 
lesque. It was not that Shakespeare regarded the legend of Arthur as 
unsuitable for drama on account of * the remoteness of its spirit from 
the world of living men '. Such a theory has been urged and might 
indeed hold, had the dramatist merely refrained from using the material 
for the plots of one or more of his serious plays. But his attitude is 
obviously of a more positive kind : it is one of plain ridicule towards a 
vulgarized story ; and this attitude as a popular dramatist he was bound 
to take. 



J. E. SANDYS 291 


-ft) 7rapa > Travpa Aariva, 
7ravpoTp JLhXrjvwv ypajutt/AaTa, TTCUS 

TTOTL TrarpiSo? 
T 0\a pfyivT 
evravOol 8' atyoppos Icov 9 icaka vroAAa 7rovrj<Tas 
evpes repju,a jQlov KOI ieX.Os aOavarov. 

HERE, as a boy, beside his native stream, 
He once did learn ' small Latin and less Greek 
Hence, as a man, he the great City sought, 
To win the noblest prizes of the Stage ; 
Hither, with all his work well done, he came, 
To find the end of life, and deathless fame. 






T\avK(ov. X0e? Trepl Seikrjv o^fiav TroAf? kv 
Aoyo? ft>? eis TOP Heipcua apn KaraTreTrkevKvla GLTJ vavs ' 
ray T /J,ye0(, VTrepftahXovcra Kal rjj a^Xy irapao-Kevy 
KOL evBvf air a<TTO)s Kareppeov aOpooi el? TIeipaia 

TtoV T TTOklTWV KOi TCOV eV(i)V KOi TtoV fJLCTOLKtoV TO 7rk<HOV tyo/ 

ical 8rj Kal avros eyco (TvwrjKoX.ovdovV Kai yap ev /AGV TCO 

P OV( P 0*A.oy<yAo? rt,$ eyco Aeyo/^a/ re Kal 

vvv ore TroAe/z-oi/ eKelvou ajravrtov (f> ocrov TJ T>V av6pw7ra)v 
<f>LKViTat, fjueyicrrov 7ro\eju,ov(ri,v. Kai avrrj /jJev rj vavs 
ov8ajJLO>s ra? ekTrlSas etyev (re, a\Xa Kal, TO TOV QovKvSlSov, a/a??;? 


eycoye TWIT vavr&v KOL T&V ejnfiaTtov Tyv re TOV o~d)/J,aTOs ve!~iav 
teal TO TOV 7rpoo~a)7rov apepi/Avov KOL &>? atojOws ISpeTavwKOV, TO 
Trpivivov, <j)ao-iv, TTJ? KapSlas Kal TO /zeAAo^^/ctaji/ e? evapyeo~TaTa 
/j,<paivov. aAA* OVTTO) eveTrKjjaO'rjv Oetofievos KOL elBov awo TOV 
TrKoiov a/rroftaivovTa TOV Tavpiorjv y avSpa AyyXov, %evov fjfev ovra 

K 7ra\acov 9 vvv 8e 8t,a TroXXov %povov eis ra? KOrjv 
rjGTra^ofjueBa re aAA^Aof? &>? <f>iX.i,KQ)TaTa Kal cya), <c apa a 
G<TTIV , <f)7ji> 9 ( c a Trpo? fjfJbas V7TO Tcov Yep/juavtov o~vve%a)S ayyek- 
\Tat a>? apa ol Kyy\.oi aTraz/re? yeyovao-i Tore fJbev 
crK07rot 9 el? TOP ovpavov ava/S\.G7rovT<; ael Kai Trvvdavo/juevoi a 

7TOTC KOL TToOeV TO $(,VOV rj%i, O)O~T6 Trap V/MV OVKGTi OV& aVTO? 

o ^(OKpaTTjs, ov TTOTG a>? ao~TpovofjiovvTa 6 * Kpio~TO<f>dvr]<; OLTTC- 




GLAUKON, of Athens. 
TAURIDES, an Englishman. 

Glaukon. THERE was current in the city yesterday afternoon a 
strong rumour that an English ship had just come into the Peiraeus, 
of exceptional size and remarkable in her general equipment. Imme 
diately there was a rush from the town ; citizen, alien, naturalized 
alien, all poured down to see the vessel, and I myself went with them. 
For indeed, I have always been, as I am said to be, a friend of England, 
but more than ever now when England is engaged in the greatest of 
all wars within human memory. The ship herself did not disappoint 
expectations. In the phrase of Thucydides, * trial outdid report/ 
But what was more admirable to me than the ship was the physical 
fitness of sailor and marine alike : the truly British sans souci showing 
in their faces, a vivid expression of the * hearts of oak ' of the ' Britons 
never, never shall be slaves '. 

I had not satisfied my eyes when I saw coming off the ship Mr. Bull, 
an Englishman, with whom I had an old friendship, and who was now 
visiting Athens after a long interval. After we had greeted each other 
very cordially, I asked him whether the German stories which con 
tinually reach us were true. * Is it true', I asked, * that now Englishmen 
are all become star-gazers always looking to the heavens and asking 
one another when and from what quarter the fearful thing will come : 

Socrates himself, whose star-gazing was ridiculed by Aristophanes, 



ov8ajj,ov av tfralvoiTO, Tore 8' av epe/3o$t<l>u)art,v y rpcoyko- 
TTJV yrjv bpvTTOvres Kal ev airoQ^icai^ Trviyrjpals olKOvvres 
, covTrep Tcpo UpojjwjOecos TO avOpwTrelov yevos, Kal <rrra- 
Kal fjuofos avaKV7rTOVTe$y &? <f>r)o~iv 6 IIAaTCDZ/, elf TOP cvQaSe 
y are Trpos TOVS TOV Ka/cra/oo? Kepavvovs KdTaiftaTas TravTa- 

aAA* <c ovtc eerr* ervyLto? Xoyos OVTOS ", 
TCO yap OVTI el ejjt,oi e^eA.ofc? rw avTOTTTrj re KCU ef avTov 
TOV epyov evffvs VIKOVTI 7n,o~Teveiv fJuahXov 77 o?9 rt^e?, o?? 

TI 8ia<t>epi , Trap vfjulv iravv o"7rov8fj $t,ayy\Xovo~LV, ol *A.yy\OL TO, 
vvv cr%8ov ovfiev SiaipepovTcos SiaiTcovrai, rj ev TCO aAAw aTravTi 
Xpovtoy aAA' Iva KCLT ' Apt,o~TO<f>awj Xeya), 

01 8* ev/coXot jJ.V rjcrav, eu/coXot 8e vvv. 

Ta jjfev yap aAAa eacras ev TI troi TOV Tpojrov avT&v TeKfA'fjpiov epai* 
avayopevos Sevpo KaTeKeiTcov avTOVs eopTrjv ayovTas elf TI/ATJV TOV 


TTOLOV y^e<r7raot> ; JJLWV TOV TroirjTOv; 

TOV TroirjTov. 

eopTTjv TroirjTov Kal TavTa TrokejAOV TOCTOVTOV TroAe- 

aAA' OVK aicrjKoas &>? TraKat, TTOTC TOV TvpTalov TOV 
eTrrjyayovTO ol AaKeSai/uovioi, ore TOIS Meacr 
v y OTTW? TCOV eiceivov eKeyeiw aKpow/JuevoL ol TroXiTai 
aperrjv 7rapol;vvot,VTOi TavTov ovv 8ij TOVTO 8oKOVo~t,v e/zot ol AyyX.ot, 
Trpo? TOV 'Ey^ea-TraAov TreTrovBevat,, avSpa ayaBov Trepl Trjv TTOJUV 
Kac evepyeTrjv yeyevrjo'Oai, avTov rjyov^evoty OO~TI,$ aAAa re TroAAa 
AcaAw? TTJV rjpeTepav 7roX.LV teal evovdeTrjo'e /col vTrefJuvrjo-ev 
erryveo'ev xai 8rj Kal Ta TcoXvdpvk'rjTa eKelva els avTTjv e 
cov TJ ^p'h ToidSe 

^8* V) cre/Jcwrn) yata, ^8afnXc<uv Opovos, 

, Xwpog 

ov avros aural ' 

vocrou Tr/adySXry/Lta, TroXe/xuis a\Kap 

A. W. MAIR 295 

would be unremarked among you : or again they " dive into the deeps " ; 
like troglodytes they dig up the earth and live in stuffy " cabins under 
earth " like the human race before Prometheus rarely and hardly 
lifting up their heads to " this upper world " as Plato says ; utterly terri 
fied by the " downrushing thunderbolts " of the Kaiser ? ' 

Taurides. ' That tale 's not true ', friend Glaukon. In fact, if 
you would believe me who have seen with my own eyes and have come 
directly from the scene of actionrather than those, probably not quite 
disinterested, gentlemen, who studiously spread reports among you 
Englishmen have hardly at all altered their way of life : they live 
practically as they have always lived : as Aristophanes says of Sophocles : 

Easy before and not less easy now. 

To mention a single sign of this when I left England for Athens they 
were holding a festival in honour of Shakespeare. 

Glaukon. Shakespeare ? the poet ? 

Taurides. The same. 

Glaukon. A festival in honour of a poet, when they are engaged 
in such a tremendous war ! What queer folks those English be ! 

Taurides. Nay, have you not heard that long ago, when the 
Lacedaemonians were engaged in a war with the Messenians, they 
invited to Sparta the elegiac poet Tyrtaeus, in order that his elegiacs 
might stir up the valour of their citizens. Similar is the attitude of 
Englishmen to Shakespeare. They look on him as a man who has 
' deserved well ' of the state, as a * benefactor ', inasmuch as he wisely 
and well in many a line admonished our country and reminded her 
and praised her, and in particular wrote the famous lines commencing : 

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle, 
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, 
This other Eden, demi-paradise, 
This fortress built by Nature for herself 
Against infection and the hand of war, 

U 2 


jj.OLKa.ipa yea, jcooyxia 
778* as oyiapaySo? apyupav Itpvar* a\a' 
^i> d/A</>t/3a\\ei 7TOVT05 curt Tet^tov, 
rd(f>pov oVo/AdVais aV, atcnrep oi/a'a?, 


\ ' ^ s "S> A \' 

TO KTjiri.ov TO Oat/xo^tov, 170 AyyAia. 

01) SiKaicos TOP TOiavra rrjv 'KyyXLav 7raive<ravTa en Kal 

ev fAvypr) Kal rifty %OfJ,ev aAAw? re /cai i;7re/) avTij? vvv Seov 

TToAeyu./oi'S' T&v TravTwv tofAorarovs afJivvecrOat, ; 

r\.avKO>v. Si/caicos Kal cr(f>o8pa ye. 

TavptSr}?. ere 8e Kal roSe fjuoi BOKO) evvevoijKevai on ovO* 
al Mo5(ra6 vrv^ovo~iv OTTOV fjurj rj 'EAef^e/3/a, ovO* rj 'HLkevOepia 
OTTOV fj/r) al Movo-ai. ov8e yap ev avrfj rjj 'EAAa^, rrj avrfov 

OVKCTI GfJLewav, eTrecrj VTTO rcav 

(ical yLtofc fj/rj a%0o~0rj$ coo-jrep ^pvm^co erepco ra otKrjid o~e 

aAA' et? rrjv ''' ' \ra\iav fJLerwK'rjo'av' CTrecSrj & av ol *Pft)- 
eis TO Tpvfyepov Kat KeK\ao~/Juevov KOI aftpoftiaiTOv cu 
OVTOVS evOvs al Movtrat, w? 8vo~%patvovo~ai, a 
aval-iocs biuKeiVy Kal efavyov OVK o?8' OTTOI el p/rj el$ TTJV rj 
ef ov Kal rjfAels TWV a\\cov TroXewz^ aTrao-tov Kal eis TO, aAAa ?r/ooe- 
o~Tavai OVK akoyw al;iovfJLev' OVTCOS aKvjdes ecrnv o (pijcri TLS T*V 

1]JJ,TpCt)V TTOirjTCOV' 

8c Motor* tWog Stw/cet 
Ao^ cTTCTat Kal 

KaTa<f>vyovo~c0v 8' ovv Trap y^as TCOV Movacov 7rpo<f>rjTrj^ 
eyevero o > Ey^e(T7raXos', /-taAAoz> 3* ?a r e)? lepo<f>avrr)v 8ei 
TCOV fj,vo~T i rjpUdv TO>V Movo~elct)v, Kal Trepl jjuev avTov 
y o</>0akju,a>v 8* ov% OTTWS eo-TeprfGev, coo^rrep TraKai 
Trap 'AA/ai>6> A7)jj,o8oKov 9 aXXa TTO\.V fjbahXov elzcojuipiaTCoa'ei' Kal 

ot x/>vo~ea5 
Aet/xarouv TC Tnjyas 
/cat b.a.KpV(ov yoepuv avol^ai. 

TJ Trotos TI$ o~ol 8oKL 6 * fLyxeo~7raKo$ TroirjTrjs elvat, ; 

aAA of a ea> Traw TL eo~o\aKO)^ Tvavd) rot? 

vfjLGTepot,$ TroiTjTals, ov pa5/ft)9 ep^a) aTTOKpivecrOai,, ?roAA?;^ 5* az/ 

A. W. MAIR 297 

This happy breed of men, this little world, 

This precious stone set in the silver sea, 

Which serves it in the office of a wall, 

Or as a moat defensive to a house, 

Against the envy of less happier lands, 

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. 

Are we not right in remembering and honouring, even when he is dead, 
a poet who wrote such praise of England, especially when we now have 
to defend her against the cruellest of all enemies ? 

Glaukon. Very right, indeed. 

Taurides. Moreover, I seem to have noticed this, that Poetry 
does not flourish without Freedom, nor Freedom without Poetry. 
Hellas was the motherland of the Muses, yet even in Hellas the Muses 
did not remain after Hellas was enslaved by the Romans ; now do not 
be vexed with me if, like a second Phrynichus, I ' remind you of the 
woes of your kin ' : they migrated to Italy. When the Romans, in their 
turn, declined on luxury and enervation and effeminacy, immediately 
the Muses forsook them and fled ; fled, I know not whither, unless 
it were to our England ; and from that time we have no unreasonable 
claim to be the first of nations in other things as well as in poetry. So 
true are the words of Gray : 

Her track, where'er the goddess roves, 
Glory pursues, and generous Shame. 

In any case, when the Muses took refuge with us, Shakespeare 
became their spokesman, or rather, perhaps, I should call him the 
hierophant of the mysteries of the Muses. The Muse * loved him with 
an exceeding love ', but so far from robbing him of his eyes as she did 
Demodikos of the court of Alkinoos she actually opened his eyes, 
and gave him the golden keys that 

can unlock the gates of Joy ; 
Of Horror that, and thrilling Fears, 
Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic Tears. 

But what is your own opinion of the poetry of Shakespeare ? 

Glaukon. The fact is I have not much studied English poetry, 


%api,v el8elrjv el eOe\.oi,s e/juol fj,erai;v jropevo^evcav CKCLVOV ra? a/sera? 

Tavpt8rj9. peya 8rj epyov, <3 </>/A.e, \eyei$. el fjuev yap avev 
7rapa8eiyjJ,aTG)V TLV>V a7r\.S>s avTov e7raLvoirjv y ra%' av ov TTMTTevoi,? 
l keyovTLy el 8' av wv eicelvos e7roirjo~eVy okiy arra eKkeyav 

aOeifAtjVy TOUT' av etrj TO Kara TTJV Trapoipiav \eyofj,evov y CLTTO 

rrjv oltclav eTraivelv' <t>7)<riv yap TTOV 6 c Ie/>o/cA^? &> 
CTTIKOS TIS OLKiav ^OfXo/z-e^o? aTToSocrQat,, Seiy/ua avrrjs 
7repL(f)pe. ravrov 8' av i&a)? Kayw TreTrovOas eirjv el ev OVTCD 
{3pa%i xpovco, ev co elf aarrv Tropevojjueda, rov 'Ey^e<77raAof ra 
/caAA?; eTTixeipoirjv Sivjyeio-Qai,. aA.A.' e^ %pr] ev TJ 8vo onto fAvpiwv 
rcdv ev8e^o/Jievci)v Tra^fAa)? Kal TVTTCO ev8eiKvvo'0a(, > (r%e8ov TI OVK 
ol8' OTTodev 8ei apxe&Qat,, a\Xa TO) OVTL ajropco ' 

rt irpwrov rot eTrctra, rt 8' vcrraTiov 

ap%T} 8* ovv e(TTO) rov \oyov rj iraKaua eKeivrj airopia Trorepov rov TTOITJ- 
TTJV 8el TJ Kal rov ypa(f>ea fjapelcrOai, @e\.Tiovas TJ Kad ' ^a? 97 %eipovas 
rj Kai TOIOVTOVS, axnrep Kal o vjjwrepos 2o0o-A^?, el fjbe/j,vrj(rai, 9 e(f>rj 
avro? fjJev oiovs 8el Troteiv, J^vpt>7rl8fjv 8e OLOL elcriv. 6 fJbev ovv 

ov pa8la)$ av eiTrois TLVL rcov 8oy^ara)v TOVTCOV 
y czAAa TOT fj,ev rco8e (fraiTjs av, rore 8e Tfo8e, TO 8' 

o)$ efAot, (fraiveTaiy Trjs TOiavTrjs aKpiftoXoyias 
tcaTecfrpovet,. co/mokoyet, yap SrjkovoTi, T&> 'A^tcrTOTeXet tt>? ov 
ra yevofjueva \.eyew TOV TroirjTOv epyov eo-Tiv a\K ola av yevot,TO, 
ov8e Ta Kad* eKao~TOv Xeyav, a)o-7rep ol lo-TOpiKot, aXXa TCL Kadokov , 
elf eKe?vo fjuovov a7ro0\e7rovTa TW TTOCCO Ta nroT arra 
\eyeiv tj TTpaTTeiv Kara TO CIKOS TJ TO avayKaiov. \veTat, 8e 
TJV Tt,ve$ eTTeTijuiTjo'av avTto OTL evioTe TepaTa)8ei,s 

a8vvaTOvs yeveo~6ai TreTrolrjKev a)o-7rep avTLKa TOV 
el /juev ovv TOV TV%ovTa av0pa)7rov /Ai/juelcrOai 7rpoe\.o- 
eiTa TOV Kaktfiavov TOIOVTOV, olov olo~6a ) e7roirjo-ev y evo^of 
av rjv TTJ eTTLTLfJUTjaeC vvv 8e ev el8a)s eKelvos Trpos ye TTJV Trolrja'iv 
alpeTcoTepov ov TTiQavov a8vvaTov rj anrlQavov Kal 8vvaTOV, Ta ovra 
VTTepjSakwv TOV? TpaTO)8ei,$ eKeivov? LO~rjyayey Trepl TOVTO 

A. W. MAIR 299 

and it is not easy for me to give an answer. I should be very grateful if, 
while we walk, you would explain to me Shakespeare's merits. 

Taurides. That is a big task ! If I were to praise Shakespeare 
without quoting examples, my words would probably fail to carry con 
viction : if, on the other hand, I were to quote a few extracts, this would 
be a case of the proverbial * commending a house with a brick '. Hierocles 
tells us of a pedant who, wishing to sell his house, carried about a brick 
as a specimen of it. I should be in like case if I attempted, in the brief 
while that we are walking to the city, to recount the beauties of Shake 
speare. However, if I must mention one or two points out of the ten 
thousand possible topics, I really do not know where to begin, and I am 
honestly in Homer's difficulty : 

What shall I first, what shall I last recount ? 

Let me begin with the old problem. Should a poet or, for that 
matter, should a painter represent men better than ordinary men like 
ourselves, or worse men, or men just such as we are ? Your own Sopho 
cles, if you recollect, said that he himself represented men as they should 
be, while Euripides represented them as they actually are. Now one 
would find it hard to say which of these doctrines Shakespeare sup 
ported. Sometimes you would be inclined to say the one opinion, 
sometimes the other. But, in my judgement, the real truth is that 
Shakespeare looked with little favour on this sort of quibbling. Clearly 
he agreed with Aristotle in holding that the function of the poet is not 
to relate what has happened, but what may happen not to give the 
particular, like the historian, but the universal : looking only to one 
consideration how a certain sort of person will speak or act on a given 
occasion, according to the law of probability or necessity. This point 
of view resolves the criticism of Shakespeare made by some people, 
that he sometimes introduces monstrous and impossible characters, as, 
for example, Caliban. Now had the intention of Shakespeare been to 
represent an ordinary man when he portrayed Caliban, you know 
the character then he would have been open to criticism. But the 
actual fact is that Shakespeare was well aware that, artistically , poetically ', 
a plausible impossibility is preferable to an unplausible possibility. 
He, accordingly, lightly went beyond the limits of the actual world 


rrjv 7rtju,\.tav 7rotov/j,evo$ OTTO)? avrol eavTOts b/j,ota Kal 
Kal 7rpdt;ovo-tv KCLL, a>9 <rvve\.6vTt etTretv, rrjv otKetav Troti}- 
o'ova'tv rjbovfjv. Tavry 8e o-KO7rov/j,evots o re KaA./y9az/o? /cat at 3>ap- 
ju,aKVTptat ov8ev fjua\\.ov atot 8oKovo~tv etvat eTrtTtj&'rjo'ea)? TJ o re 

Kal o 'A/JtkeTtos KOL et rives aot TOLOVTOL. 
l ravra jj,ev Aeyeo OVK aTroKoyovpevo? vjrep rov ' 
aAAa clfijyovfJievos' el 8e 8e? KOL anroKoyiav eiTreiv, Trpo^apov ecrrtv 
TO ' ApiVTOTekeiov eicelvo keyew, on " aAA' ovv ovrco <f>a(TLv" . KOL 
yap 7rl TOV $ Ey^6(T7raAou Kal e\.eyov TroAAa roiavra KOL eTTLcrrevov , 
are TroAAa rrjs yrjs f^eprf OVTTCO iicavcos eiSores, ev ol$ paSia)? Travro- 
Sajra eju,v0o\oyovv evoucelv repara' avros yovv 6 'Ey^eorraAo? 
<j>avepov earn/ on TreTre^a/te^o? tjv TW ovrt, elvat rtvas avOpamovs 
VTTO rols tofjbois ras /ce0aAa? e%ovras. ras Se QapfJuaKevrpias et 
a7ro8oKtjj,aet 9 ev av e%ot pe/Avrjcrdat, ort KCUT avrous rovs 
Ktvov9 ov% OTTO)? 7]7TL(TTovv fJLTj yevecrdaL TOtavras rivds, aAAa Kal 
ewto-Tevov Kal efoftovvTo Kal /3a<rdvots re rats Setvordrats f)Xey%ov 
et rtva vTTtoTTTevov <j>apfjbaKOLs Kal jtayyavetats xpfj&Oat, 
%0el(rav re rats ecrxarats rt/JLWptats eKoKa^ov. 

ev 8' ovv aTraa'tv biotas TO b/u,otov eKaarco eStwKev b ' 
TraAo? Kal Trepl TOVTO fjuovov o~7rov8aev, eTrel OVT dp%atokoytKos 
etvat Trpoa-eTTOtetro ovre yec0ypa<f>tK09 ovre T*V rotovrcov ov8ev 9 aAA* 
7rot,r}T7js. are ovv 7re7reto~jj,evos aXXwv aXXo re^vwv epyov 
otov rrjs /mev eTTto-Trjj&rjv , rrjs Se 7ret,6a) y KOI rcov 

avros Te%vrjv TTJV 

Trapa Travra rfj? TrotrjrtKTJs TTJV otKetav Trovfjcrat eo~7rov8a^ev > 
(oo~7rep TTOV Kal avTos (f>rjo~tv TOV Xetju,a>vos ev rw 7rt\6yco' 

SOT' ovpiav c/xotcrti/ I(rrtot9 
rj Kapr av aTrons)(pifjC av ov 

aKijKoevat pev ovv jtot 8oKO) OTL 7rd\at Trore, eTrel 7rpeo~j3et$ 
Ttves VTTO TO>V 'Pco/Aatcov ajreo-Ta^evot eis TOV TapavTa 7jKov 9 
avTOV? ol Tapavnvot et Tt /j/rj /caAw? ehXTjvto-etav , Trj$ 
mtKpokoytas ov8ev OVTC TW 'Ey^eo-TraAw e/^e\ev OVTC 
aAX&> /j,e\et 09 ye TOV ' Apto~TOTe\.7j TreTraTTjKtos Tvy%avet' ev yap 

A. W. MAIR 301 

and introduced those monstrous creations, his sole care being that in 
speech, as in action, they should be consistent with themselves in a 
word, produce their appropriate pleasure. So considered, Caliban and 
the Witches are no more deserving of censure than Othello or Hamlet 
or the like. 

These remarks are meant to be an exposition, not a defence of 
Shakespeare. If defence is needed, we have at hand the Aristotelian 
defence : * but so they say '. For in the time of Shakespeare such 
things were not only said but believed. Having an inadequate acquain 
tance with many portions of the globe, they easily imagined these to be 
the home of all sorts of monsters. Shakespeare, indeed, himself actually 
believed in the existence of a race of men * whose heads do grow beneath 
their shoulders '. As to the Witches, if any one objects to them, he 
would do well to remember that just about Shakespeare's time, so far 
from the existence of witches being doubted, they were a subject of 
terror, and any woman suspected of employing magic simples or other 
means of witchcraft was examined with horrible tortures and, if con 
victed, punished with the utmost severity. 

But, in any case, Shakespeare's aim always and his sole aim was 
consistency. He did not pretend to be an archaeologist or a geographer, 
or anything of that sort, but simply a poet. He was convinced that 
different arts have different ends. The end of one art is knowledge, 
the end of another is persuasion : and so for every art a particular end. 
His own particular art being poetry, he aimed always at producing the 
pleasure which is appropriate to poetry. Indeed, he says himself in the 
epilogue of The Tempest : 

Gentle breath of yours my sails 
Must fill, or else my project fails, 
Which was to please. 

I seem to recollect a story of an embassy which the Romans sent to 
Tarentum, and how the Tarentines jeered when the ambassadors made 
a slip in their Greek. Now this sort of meticulous pedantry had small 


TOiovrois et TI TreTr^fJbfMe^Tai^ Kara TJ]V TTpoaipeviv eo~TL TO 

djj,dpT7)jj,a aAA' ov Kara TIJV 

i OV% rjKKTTO, 8i* aVTO TOVTO , OTl TTCpl TO, /JUtJ 7TpOO~7)KOVTa OV 

^eTaLy ov JAOVOV rot? ev a(f>a)pio~/^vco TLVL TJ TOTTCO 77 xpovto 

OlOS T eO~TiV CKCCVOS 7)8oV7)V TTape^LP ttAAa Kai TOfc? TToAf KOI 

ocra yap tj TOTTOV TWOS rj %povov rj 
TavTa okiois GvveTa { c e? 8e TO Trap 

," . o ^e TOVS avSpas Kai ra? yvvalKas TreTroLrjKev VTTO TO>V 
avTcov, wvTrcp Kai rj/^eiS) TraO&v re Kai 7rt,dvfjLiwv /care^oyLteVov?, 
/cat, a!? Tt? ev elTre^, ol fjfev aAAot TrocrjTal a)$ 7rl TO TTO\.V avdpw- 
TTOV Tiva iMfAovvraLy o 8e 'Ey^eerTraAo? TOP KaOoKov av6pa)7rov. 

YKavKtov. ov <j>avKov, CD <f>l\e, Aeyet? irovqmiv' aXXa TOV 
\oyov Trepaive. 

Tavpldrjs. aAAa yap, co <f)l\.e YkavK&v, TOV eiraivov, el /z-eAAet 
TOV eTraivov/juevov o~eo'0ac 9 tf ov8e7ra) KprjTrl? v7reo"Tt,v" , aAA 

> ^' * > O / > 

ovo av et OCK 

ov% olos T av eirjv CKCIVOV T&V apeT&v TroAAocrroz/ pepos 

,, 6V ye VTrepftefikrjTai, TOVS re TT/OO avTOv TroirjTas Kai TOV? 
eavTOv Kai ovde TO?? eTriyiyvo/JuevoLS VTrepfioXTjv 

TTS u>s 7Tp>TOV eTTaweaofjuat, Trjv evapyaav Kai TTJV 

Kai T'rjv Trepiov viav, Kadapas re Tols ovofiao-w OV&TJS Kai 
TOV * Kyy\iKov %apaKTr)pa TravTa^y 8iao~a)ovo'7]$ ; rj Trjs diavolas TO 
fj,yaXo<f>ves Kai TO dSpeTTTjjSokov Kai TO dy^co~TpO(f>ov Kai TO w? akrj- 
6a><; fjuvpiovovv; TTOTepov ra yekoia ScrjyTjo'OfAai, OTTCOS /^era^e^o/fera^ 
7rapava)v fjuev CVLOTG TO 0a)/^o^6^ov 9 <f)V\aTTO)v 8* del TO O/JLOLOV ; rj ev 
Tat$ TOTrrjyopiais owoo-a <f>t,\oo~o(f)e'i > OTrocras yvco/uas eiprjKev, >v al 
els irapoifjuias fj^rj elalv afayfjuevat, Kai T*V Ayykcov eKa 

Trepc Tto Tpaxrjty ; rj TTJV ev Tols TraOrjTiKols SewoTrjTa, eav T 
opyrjv dey e^aLveiv^ eav T eKeov, eav re TrevOos; TJ ocra TCOV 
8pafjt,aTCOV 7ravTa%ov jjt,e\7) e/JufteftK'rjKev, aScov, TO TOV 

Xtyvpws old Tts opvis 

A. W. MAIR 303 

concern for Shakespeare, or, indeed, for any one who has * thumbed ' 
his Aristotle. Error in such matters is of intention, not of art. 

And just this fact just the fact that Shakespeare does not bestow 
pedantic pains on the non-essential is one of the main reasons why the 
pleasure he affords is not confined to the inhabitants of a particular 
place or to a particular generation, but is enjoyed equally by those far 
removed in many ways. Whatever is special to a particular time, a 
particular locality, a particular profession, has a meaning for a few only, 
' but for the general it needs interpreters '. Shakespeare's men and 
Shakespeare's women are moved by like passions and desires even as 
we are. It has been well said that ' In the writings of other poets, a 
character is too often an individual : in those of Shakespeare it is 
commonly a species '. 

Glaukon. This is no ordinary poet, my friend, you represent. 
Please continue. 

Taurides. Nay, my friend, of my eulogy if it is to be worthy 
of its subject * not yet the pedestal is laid ', but even if 

For wellnigh half a moon 
I spoke right on, 

I could not do more than mention a fraction of his excellences, seeing 
that he not merely surpassed his predecessors and his contemporaries, 
but has set a mark which after-generations find impossible to surpass. 
Shall I praise first his language his perspicuity, his harmony, his 
copious diction, * a well of English undefiled ' ? Shall I praise his intel 
lectual qualities his grandeur and his compass, his nimbleness, literally 
his * myriad-mindedness ' ? Shall I tell you how he manages the comic 
element grazing at times the vulgar, yet always observing truth to 
life ? Or his use of the commonplaces his philosophy his sententiae 
or pithy sayings, most of which have already passed into proverbs, and 
which every Englishman has ' bound about his heart continually and 
tied about his neck ' ? Or his power in the expression of the emotions, 
whether anger, or pity, or sorrow ? Or the songs he has everywhere 
introduced in his drama what John Milton calls * his native woodnotes 


7) TTpCTTOV i(T(0$ CLV 11) fJLakXoV V KCiLpto TOiOVTCO T7J$ TTdTplSo? 

tca0(7Td)(rrf$ TO <fri\.OTro\t, avrov VTrawsiv KOLL eiceivcw fJuvrjaOyvai a 
7rafJL7TO\Xa eypa^ev el? evkoylav ajta TWV Ayyhcov KCU Trapaxe- 
\evo-jji6v, old ccrnv ciceiva ra aperfjs re KCU avftpayaOias Trveoirra, 
a GV rw *\toavvri Tvpavvw KelraC <f>7jo~i yap TTOV' 


ILTCJV 8* aTT* Evpou /cat Mecnj/x/J/Has 
vet/3a)<TO/Ltc(r^a iravras' ov yap ccr6' ort 
ci? T(i<j>pov ar>ys KarajSaXet TTJV 'AyyXtav 
"AyyXot y cavrtSi/ cia>s av SHTIV a^ioi. 

eyyi/9 yap ffbtj opto rrjv rov KaAAt'ou oitciaVy Trap <5 


avrap eya> /cat o-ib /fat dXXijs /infcro/m,' 0018^9 

A. W. MAIR. 

A. W. MAIR 305 

wild ' ? Or perhaps it would be more appropriate, in view of the critical 
position in which my country now is placed, to praise his patriotism 
and to refer to the numerous passages which are at once praise of 
England and an exhortation to Englishmen : for example, those lines 
breathing of manhood and valour which occur in King John : 

Come the three corners of the world in arms, 

And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue, 

If England to itself do rest but true. 

But here we are at the house of Callias, with whom I am going to 
stay, so I must stop. We shall discuss these topics in more detail 
another time. * So fare thou well . . . but I shall remember thee and 
another song.' 

A. W. MAIR. 



ECCE dies felix vatis tria saecula summi 

Accumulans ipsum concelebrare iubet! 
Romanumque Anglumque simul, puerumque Britannum, 

1 STRATA tulere VADI dulcis AVONA tui : 
Cor patriae iuvenem pavit, suavissima rura, 

Urbs, caput ipsa altis urbibus, inde fovet : 
Tradidit urbs orbi terrarum, aetatibus aetas, 

Oceano Tamesis ripa, GLOBUSQUE globo : 
REGIA ut aequabat pelago sua signa VIRAGO, 

Naturae atque hominum splendidus auctor erat ; 
2 Aurea cui cunctae limarunt dicta Camenae, 

Commisitque suam Delius ipse lyram. 
Mel stillat Sophoclis, lacrimis Euripidis undat, 

Cumque furore opus est, Aeschylus ille tonat ; 
Ludere seu placet et socco mutare cothurnum, 

Alter Aristophanes, Plautus et alter, erit. 
O patriae, O Musarum, O libertatis amator, 

Haec dum tutamur, spiritus altor ades ! 
Aerumnis solitam fer opem, repetatque precamur 

Nunc tua dilectos nobilis umbra Lares ! 
Venturi certis actum celebrare licebit 

Sic aevum, ut referes spemque fidemque tuis ! 


Poet ices, apud Oxon., nuper Praelector ; 
Coll. B. M. Magd. Praeses. 

1 I know not whether it has been remarked, but it is certainly remarkable, that the 
name 4 Strat-ford on Avon ' contains the record of the three chief races which have made 
our country and tongue. 

2 And precious phrase by all the Muses filed. Sonnet LXXXV. v. 4. 



? D'T "fe I Wl D'^y *TW7 PNn * Hath not a Jew eyes ? Hath not 
if/' i a Jew hands?' 

^b fc vb\ wu enn w DKH 


PlTini Vp Dini 11p Warmed and cool'd by the same 
/ 1 i/ . , ..-' 

. , . 

winter and summer ? 

ifnm nin*n hy na Syi why scorn ye him then? 


j; When the days were dark, a Seer 

, arose; lifting his voice in parable 

WflTI p HD^ *|fiyin TX and song, he gave utterance to 

this plea. 

anan nrnn nnnn on 

Kin nrw nr 


rej ice> ye Isles f 

For here was born the Si 

sweetest of song ! 





'. He vvas not of an as 6 * but for ail 



n Tipa uriKa Trip yas?: 

Tiaaa iae> aie Kin p manai 

ir *a ^tt 1PSJ paaa D8T 31b 'Good name ', said he,' in man and 
r j woman is the immediate iewel of 

yy ioiy in piya piyn oipa P TX their soui.' 

cyn v^i nnm 

Misname no man can glorify; for 
^e world is too 

n rtaarn 

wn runa 

S p No man can utter his praise; he is 

tmrti frii tmvan ^m te Chief ""^ ^ singers ' 

Let us exult, we men of this age, 

for s^ 68 ^ 6 is 

! uruun wn twan 


DV I?* Ha in 

With prophetic spirit he spake the 

nann nan n^ra 
w^ai nwin nrm 

N 1 ? DSiya nNTn pn 'This England never did, nor 
i I never shall, 

mn\ f iy vsb ny ny iraoic ^isn 161 Lie at the proud foot of a con- 
nSoaa nnyoa paa waa u^y on^n 1 ? DM quei )r; 



Naught shall make us rue, 
OK If England to itself do rest but true.' 







TID* N71 





fiS Witt DJ 



'This royal throne of Kings,' 
the sceptre shall never depart from 
the Isles-a land of splendour and 
honour, to freedom holding: true, 
hers the abundance of the seas, 

sea, [wall, 

Which serves it in the office of a 
Or as a moat defensive to a house, 
Against the envy of less happier 

Rejoice and be glad, O Isles of the 

The spirit of Shakespeare shieldeth 

his folk! 

Bn3 Mft 

nan <u> nrrn 

y jn 

iryi inS DK 


By the spirit divine he, the patriot 
prophet, taught men to seek first 
The weal of the realm; he strength. 

b i teth -'. ; Sweet are the uses of 


So taught he of good and m. 

m nun 
pn ina^n nswn 

n^yaa D^yi msrya nr 

iay wv nn 
K nata 


These things he did see and told of. 
List to his voice! This hero be 
hold, * his work under the heaven 
is bright as the sapphire ', and he, 
like to an angel speeding to and 
fro, sings this song amid the choir 
angelic : 

1 Let all the ends thou aim'st at be 
thy country's, thy God's, and 

E'en this year let us be glad 
in praising together his name and 
his fame ! 





: H 9 u 


u 3 u 

u 8 u 


i ^ o 



1. THREE hundred years ago this great poet, who arose in the town of Stratford 

(vUhikd-tlrlha\ in the spring, casting off his mortal frame, entered into immor 
tality there. 

2. ' By the imperishability of my works a column of fame is assuredly surpassed': so 

the Roman poet said. How much more such words befit him who significantly 
became a ' Shakespear ' (calayac-saktt : ' one who shakes his spear ' and ' one whose 
genius spreads'). 

3. For always challenging his rivals' fame and extending his renown in every land, he then 

became unique, unrivalled on earth among literary men by the force of his poetic 
genius (or spear). 

4. Behold, a marvel appears in the land of our foes intent on the destruction of this poet's 

countrymen : claimed as their own he is celebrated there to-day with a great festival. 

5. For to this composer of plays, not his own country only but the world itself is the 

stage on which by skilfully mingling mirth and gravity he displays the vicissitudes 
of human fate. 

6. His pre-eminence is praised by ordinary men and by the greatest of poets as well with 

unanimity. Hence he is exalted in the host of literary men like the sun that fares in 
the midst of the planets. 

7. He needs no glorifying monument, for he will endure for ever like the sun and moon. 

No conqueror by universal victory has ever reached the level of his lustre. 

This encomium has been composed 

by the teacher Mugdhanala (' fire of the ignorant ') 

living in the University of Oxford 

in the year 1916. 

X 2 



A SOUL supreme, seen once and not again, 

Spoke in a little island of great men 

When first our cabin 'd race drew ampler breath 

And won the sea for wise Elizabeth, 

Spoke with a sound and swell of waters wide 

To young adventure in a May of pride, 

Told of our fathers' deeds in lines that ring 

And showed their fame no scant or paltry thing. 

Then as our warring, trading, reading race 

Moved surely outward to imperial space, 

Beyond the tropics to the ice-blink's hem 

The mind of Shakespeare voyaged forth with them. 

They bore his universe of tears and mirth 

In battered sea-chests to the ends of earth, 

So that in many a brown, mishandled tome, 

Compacted spirit of the ancient home, 

He who for man the human chart unfurled 

Explored eight oceans and possessed the world. 

Children of England's children, breed new-prized, 
Building the greater State scarce realized, 
Sons of her sons who, unreturning, yet 
Looked o'er the sundering wave with long regret, 
Grandsons on clear and golden coasts, how seems 
The grey, ancestral isle beheld in dreams ? 

* We have a vision of our fathers' land,' 

4 The realm of England drawn by Shakespeare's hand,' 

W. P. REEVES 313 

* The lordly isle beyond the narrow sea 

* Fronting the might of war light-heartedly ; ' 

* Her history his shining pageant set ' 

* With stately Tudor and Plantagenet ; ' 

* Her magic woods, dim Arden cool and green ; ' 
' The imperial votaress her maiden-queen ' 

* Throned in a kingdom brave and sweet and old/ 
'That is the England that we have and hold/ 

* His dream majestic borne to shores afar/ 

' Old England, kind in peace and fierce in war/ 

* The dream that lives where e'er his English rove ' 

* The land he left for lands unknown to love ! ' 


(formerly High Commissioner for New Zealand). 


IMMORTAL searcher of the hearts of men, 
Who knewest, as none else, this human life, 
Its dread ambitions and its passions rife ; 

And limned it, godlike, with thy wizard pen, 

In mighty numbers and divinest ken : 

Here, in this anguished, war-embattled world, 
Where Right 'gainst Wrong's grim panoply is hurled 

In titan strife ; we turn to thee agen. 

For thine unfading genius stands for all 

Our ancient Britain's greatness and her woe : 
Yon old king's babblings o'er Cordelia's corse, 
The Dane's despairings and the queen's remorse, 
One pageantry sublime, through which do call 
God's trumpets from His triumphs long ago. 




WITH what white wrath must turn thy bones, 
What stern amazement flame thy dust, 

To feel so near this England's heart 
The outrage of the assassin's thrust. 

But surely, too, thou art consoled, 

Who knewest thy stalwart breed so well, 

To see us rise from sloth and go, 

Plain and unbragging, through this hell. 

And surely, too, thou art assured ! 

Hark how that grim and gathering beat 
Draws upwards from the ends of earth 

The tramp, tramp of thy kindred's feet ! 



UNSEEN in the great minster dome of time, 

Whose shafts are centuries, its spangled roof 

The vaulted universe, our Master sits, 

And organ-voices like a far-off chime 

Roll through the aisles of thought. The sunlight flits 

From arch to arch, and, as he sits aloof, 

Kings, heroes, priests, in concourse vast, sublime, 

Whispers of love and cries from battle-field, 

His wizard power breathes on the living air. 

Warm faces gleam and pass, child, woman, man, 

In the long multitude ; but he, concealed, 

Our bard eludes us, vainly each face we scan, 

It is not he ; his features are not there ; 

But these being hid, his greatness is revealed. 


(Senior Chaplain, ist Canadian Division, B. E.F.). 



' To mark by some celebration the intellectual fraternity of mankind.' 

ALIKE to those who grieve for Europe in her hour of civil war, and 
to those who would offer tribute at the shrine of William Shakespeare, 
it must appear appropriate and significant to publish tokens of the 
brotherhood of man in art. For no one has been more distinguished 
than William Shakespeare, in his profound appreciation of the common 
humanity of an infinite variety of men. 

Civilization must henceforth be human rather than local or national, 
or it cannot exist. In a world of rapid communications it must be 
founded in the common purposes and intuitions of humanity, since in 
the absence of common motives there cannot be co-operation for agreed 
ends. In the decades lately passed in terms of * real duration ', now 
so far behind us it has, indeed, been fashionable to insist upon a sup 
posed fundamental divergence of European and Asiatic character : and 
those who held this view were not entirely illogical in thinking the wide 
earth not wide enough for Europe and Asia to live side by side. For 
artificial barriers are very frail : and if either white or yellow * peril ' 
were in truth an essentially inhuman force, then whichever party believed 
itself to be the only human element must have desired the extermina 
tion, or at least the complete subordination, of the other. 

But the premises were false : the divergences of character are 
superficial, and the deeper we penetrate the more we discover an identity 
in the inner life of Europe and Asia. Can we, in fact, point to any 
elemental experience or to any ultimate goal of man which is not equally 
European and Asiatic ? Does one not see that these are the same for all 
in all ages and continents ? Who that has breathed the pure mountain 
air of the Upanishads, of Gautama, Sankara, Kabir, Rumi, and Laotse 
(I mention so far Asiatic prophets only) can be alien to those who 
have sat at the feet of Plato and Kant, Tauler, Behmen, Ruysbroeck, 
Whitman, Nietzsche, and Blake ? The last named may well come to be 
regarded as the supreme prophet of a post-industrial age, and it is 


significant that one could not find in Asiatic scripture a more typically 
Asiatic purpose than is revealed in his passionate will to be delivered 
from the bondage of division : 

I will go down to self-annihilation and eternal death, 

Lest the Last Judgment come and find me un annihilate, 

And I be seiz'd and giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood. 

But it is not only in Philosophy and Religion Truth and Love but 
also in Art that Europe and Asia are united : and from this triple like 
ness we may well infer that all men are alike in their divinity. Let us 
only notice here the singular agreement of Eastern and Western theories 
of Drama and Poetry, illustrating what has been said with special refer 
ence to the hero of our celebration : for the work of Shakespeare is in 
close accordance with Indian canons of Dramatic Art. ' I made this 
Drama ', says the Creator, * to accord with the movement of the world, 
whether at work or play, in peace or laughter, battle, lust, or slaughter 
yielding the fruit of righteousness to those who are followers of a 
moral law, and pleasures to the followers of pleasure informed with 
the diverse moods of the soul following the order of the world and all 
its weal and woe. That which is not to be found herein is neither craft 
nor wisdom, nor any art, nor is it Union. That shall be Drama which 
affords a place of entertainment in the world, and a place of audience for 
the Vedas, for philosophy and for the sequence of events/ 

And poetry is justified to man inasmuch as it yields the Fourfold 
Fruit of Life Virtue, Pleasure, Wealth, and Ultimate Salvation. The 
Western reader may inquire, ' How Ultimate Salvation ? ' and the 
answer can be found in Western scriptures : 

Von Schonheit ward von jeher viel gesungen, 
Wem sie erscheint, wird aus sich selbst entriickt. 

That is the common answer of the East and West, and it is justified by 
the disinterestedness of aesthetic contemplation, where the spirit is 
momentarily freed from the entanglement of good and evil. We read, 
for example, in the dramatic canon of Dhanamjaya : 

' There is no theme, whether delightful or disgusting, cruel or 
gracious, high or low, obscure or plain, of fact or fancy, that may not be 
successfully employed to communicate aesthetic emotion.' We may 
also note the words of Chuang Tau, 

The mind of the Sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, 

and compare them with those of Whitman, who avows himself not the 
poet of goodness only, but also the poet of wickedness. 


It is sometimes feared that the detachment of the Asiatic vision 
tends towards inaction. If this be partly true at the present moment, 
it arises from the fullness of the Asiatic experience, which still contrasts 
so markedly with European youth. If the everlasting conflict between 
order and chaos is for the present typically European, it is because 
spiritual wars no less than physical must be fought by those who are of 
military age. But the impetuosity of youth cannot completely com 
pensate for the insight of age, and we must demand of a coming race 
that men should act with European energy, and think with Asiatic calm 
the old ideal taught by Krishna upon the field of battle : 

Indifferent to pleasure and pain, to gain and loss, to conquest and defeat, thus make 
ready for the fight. . . As do the foolish, attached to works, so should the wise do, but 
without attachment, seeking to establish order in the world. 

Europe, too, in violent reaction from the anarchy of laissez-faire, is 
conscious of a will to the establishment of order in the world. But 
European progress has long remained in doubt, because of its lack of 
orientation * He only who knows whither he saileth, knows which is 
a fair or a foul wind for him.' It is significant that the discovery of Asia 
should coincide with the present hour of decision : for Asiatic thought 
again affirms the unity and interdependence of all life, at the moment 
when Europe begins to realize that the Fruit of Life is not easily attain 
able in a society based upon division. 

In honouring the genius of Shakespeare, then, we do not merely 
offer homage to the memory of an individual, but are witnesses to the 
intellectual fraternity of mankind : and it is that fraternity which assures 
us of the possibility of co-operation in a common task, the creation of 
a social order founded upon Union. 








WHEN by the far-away sea your fiery disk appeared from behind the 
unseen, O poet, O Sun, England's horizon felt you near her breast, and 
took you to be her own. 

She kissed your forehead, caught you in the arms of her forest 
branches, hid you behind her mist-mantle and watched you in the green 
sward where fairies love to play among meadow flowers. 

A few early birds sang your hymn of praise while the rest of the 
woodland choir were asleep. 

Then at the silent beckoning of the Eternal you rose higher and 
higher till you reached the mid-sky, making all quartersiof heaven 
your own. 

Therefore at this moment, after the end of centuries, the palm 
groves by the Indian sea raise their tremulous branches to the sky 
murmuring your praise. 










THE river's silent flow 

Mirrors the glory of the rosy dawn ; 

The sunset-silence in the golden glow 

Mirrors the message of the evening song ; 

The burgeoning leaf, after winter's sleep, 

Mirrors the rosy rapture of spring ; 

The bridal-palanquin of crystal cup 

Reflects the virgin beauty of red wine ; 

The rivers of endless Beauty 

Mirror the myriad coloured light of Truth ; 

The great deeps of human heart 

Mirror the radiance from Beauty's Realm ; 

And thy enchanted verse in liquid notes 

Mirrors the great deep of human heart ! 


Under the flashing sunbeams of thy thought, 
Nature herself has found herself revealed 
In perfect glory in thy golden song ; 
The conscious mistress of her treasured wealth ! 
The eager eye in search of thy image 
Found thee enshrined within a veil of light, 
Like mighty monarch of night and day, 
That bathed in glory, seeing is not seen. 
Hid from the world's eye thou hast beheld 
The intricate workings of her inmost soul ! 
The jealous mistress of deep mysteries 
Never again will suffer herself to bear 
A seer like thee who took her by surprise, 
Unveiled in starlight and mellow moon. 






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Taik lumtkye-na 
Pyam obha phyan 
Kabya pandeik 
Gun yaung pheik lyak 
Ml dvan sa sas 
Chaya phve pyu 
Glta mhu dvaft 
Ce-nu se-gya 
Chan-khyan ba saw 
Bhasa Buddha 
Yu vada nhan 


Tu mhya that shi 
Sabho mi ghe 
Nak-ne zva go 
Le-la kyes-zui 
Gun athus phya- 
Kyl-nu2 nha-lumS 
Paik yu kyum8 yve 
Shvan pyums ba bhi 
GvamS chi thi 59 
Piti pharana 
Pyam nhaip phya si 

O 6:000 500:8ii 00 cg^GCOO 8 Vam* sa as mo alvan so* 



> $(90008000: 



Paik kums se-gya 
Gun langa phyan 
Kabya phve mhat 
Mhan pya dat sag 
Paramat sabho 
Chat-chat ho gyaung 
Shan co mu-nin 
Marajin i 

Tauk thin yaung va 
Sasana si 
Shi kya pva lit 
Ye tvak cit mu 
A-nhit nhit thaung 
Chaung sa8 cvang paw 


NaS ya kyaw Us 


Ani o ya lyak 

Tauk pa thvans pyaung 

Khu taing aung Ihyan 

Ayaung lak phi 

Amye shi i 

Asi sakse 

Ma-sve a mat a 

I kabya si 

- KyamS la mya8 16 afihvan soS 



Saik thumJ ve-cha 
Khyini khyim nyS. lyak 
Sankhya tvak cit 
A-nhit sumg ya 
She? Ivan kh5 ga 
Pafifia yan slg 
Yv& daingSpyl? yve 
Nan gylg puggo 

noc^jo^coos Kabya ch6 sag 

Tho Sheik-ca-pya 
Myat chaya ag 

0000)0 (f^g Bhasa Buddha 

Cve yu gya sag 
Myan-ma nv6 yo? 
Myan lu my6s d6 
Chaung ky6g a-tvak 
Lvan a: tak vye 
Ma-pyak sim: khy6k 
A-kyvan-nok si 
Lak-6k khyl naw 
Shi pu-jaw i 
I puja si 

Nyams ba la s amvan so 

S. Z. AUNG 327 



WHEN I carefully studied the poems of the illustrious dramatic poet 
Shakespeare, whose widespread fame is known all the world over, it was the 
Buddhistic sentiments in them that appealed to me most, and I was greatly 
rejoiced hi the study of our deep philosophy, inasmuch as they added to the 
profound interest I felt in the subject. 


Because of the ultimate truth, embodied in sublime poetic diction, the 
splendid and wonderful religion of that Sage-Conqueror has lasted to this 
day, with untarnished lustre after five-and-twenty centuries, as a standing 
witness to the immortality of Shakespeare, who is a guide unto posterity, 
because he conforms to our philosophy. 


May this my tribute of appreciation, on behalf of Burmese Buddhists, to 
Shakespeare's great mind, which dwelt on lofty thoughts, constituting a 
permanent record of humanity three centuries ago, serve as a standard for 
future generations. 

S. Z. AUNG. 


(a) Lyric. 

'Ratu' is a Burmese lyric which was originally 'sung' but not ' made '. 
Hence it was generally sung hi a single verse known to this date as Ekabaik 
(one verse), but seldom in more than three verses called Paikson (complete 
verses) except hi the transitional period to the epic, when this limit was ex 
ceeded. When sung in two verses the piece is designated Aphyigan (lit., left 
to be completed). 

Y 2 


(b) Metrical feet. 

Each verse contains the same number of feet, usually of four syllables 
each, except the last, which is generally made up of seven syllables. When 
there are more than four syllables in a foot which is not final, two short syllables 
are treated as one. In the best verses the initial and final feet are alike 

(c) Rhyme. 

As a rule the fourth syllable of a foot rhymes with the third of the next 
and the second or first of the third. But sometimes the fourth syllable of 
a preceding foot may rhyme with the second or even the first of the next 
foot immediately following. 

Pronunciation of the Roman Transcript. 

The transliteration is phonetic, 
a, a, i, I, u, u, o as in Pali (or Italian) ; 
e, e, as in French ; 
6 as oh in English ; 
au as ow in cow ; 

aw as aw in saw (prolonged, somewhat like o in or) ; 
ai as j in isle, mile, tide ; 

a dot subscribed to a vowel, or a final consonant following a vowel, checks the tone of 
the vowel ; 

the colon mark indicates a grave accent, e.g. o : as o in go ; 

the nasals n and n are as in Pali (approx. ng and ny), the nasal n being retained as n ; 

so also c, ch, th (= ch, cch, t-h). 
sh as in English she ; 
s as th in English thin ; 
s" as th in the or they ; 
v as w in English ; 
an as in in English ; 

6k as oak in English, but with k sound somewhat mute ; 
eik as fin tick, but with k sound somewhat mute ; 
ak is more like et in let, with / sound somewhat mute ; 
it as in English, with / sound somewhat mute. 



HUMAN nature is the same all the world over, and every human 
being who reads Shakespeare must be greatly impressed by the wonder 
ful power displayed by the poet in touching the chords of human 
feeling, and by the comprehensiveness of his study of mankind. The 
impression must, of course, vary according to the individual estimate 
each person makes of Shakespeare's works. Different nations also will 
be differently impressed. To the Burman Shakespeare appeals most 
from the religious point of view. The Burman is pre-eminently a reli 
gious person ; he has been cultured in Buddhist ethics and philosophy 
ever since the fifth century A. D., the traditional date when Buddhism was 
introduced into Burma. The evidence of this religious spirit of the nation 
is best seen in the literature, the prevailing tone of which is religious, 
every one being constantly exhorted to do the utmost amount of good 
while in this world. In fact, in Burma literature is religion and religion 
is literature. Now, the peculiar thing about Shakespeare is that he very 
often comes to the Burman Buddhist as a relief somewhat like the 
feeling that one experiences at the conclusion of an oppressively long 
sermon, when one is glad to get away to the open air and indulge in 
some friendly chat. And yet Shakespearian literature manages to teach 
the same high standard of ethics as the Buddhist, without a distinct 
ethical tendency. In spite of his vigorous appreciation of the world, 
Shakespeare shakes hands with the Buddha, in his utter renunciation 
of the world. 

What Shakespeare has been to Burma is very little compared with 
what he will be. Already some of his plays have been translated into 
Burmese, and made accessible to those who are unable to enjoy the original. 
And although these first attempts at presenting Shakespeare in Burmese 
garb are clumsy enough, owing to the many difficulties encountered 
the Burmese language is radically different from the English there 
is every reason to believe that in the near future Shakespeare will make 
an attractive figure on the Burmese stage. It will then mark an epoch- 



making change in the history of Burmese literature, as vital as has been 
the introduction of Buddhism. The Burmese mind is plastic, and has 
produced a vast literature in testimony of its Buddhist culture. At 
present it is passing through a transitional stage, brought about by the 
advent of the English, and is already producing novels in Burmese, 
which, so far as psychological import goes, show a distinct indebtedness 
to English culture. It was in 1912 that Julius Caesar was first staged by 
the students of the Rangoon College, with considerable success ; and 
who can tell what that performance means to Burma ? 





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AFTER two lines of salutation, the poet wishes that Shakespeare could rise to see 
how the present state of the world agrees with the world as it is described in his dramas. 
Neither civilization nor learning has affected it in the manner hoped. If the world were 
just to Shakespeare's memory, there would be a general truce on his commemoration day. 
He then briefly describes Macbeth, Shy lock, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, characters whose 
freshness remains through the ages, like the art of the Pharaonic sanctuaries. Shakespeare 
is unapproached by his successors, unrivalled by his predecessors. He looks down on 
all from the sky of his imagination, and flies whither the fancy cannot venture. For a time 
his merits were ignored, then they were recognized, and his forgiveness was implored. 
Similarly, if justice were done to the Oriental authors, there would be feasts in their 
honour in both East and West. Say to the men of the Thames, when the gathering in 
Shakespeare's honour is listening to prose and verse : However great your pride in 
your mighty fleet^ your pride in the unique bard is yet greater. 



THE poet briefly describes the works of Homer, Imruul-Kais, Dante, Victor Hugo, 
and Goethe, adding that the last has been disgraced by his compatriots. Above all these 
he sets Shakespeare, whose characters all reappear in those of our own day. He briefly 
alludes to the troubles of the present time, with an imprecation on Krupp, and a blessing 
on Shakespeare for Romeo and Juliet. 




Go fitlhela ka 1896 ke sa le lekaoana, ke 
ne ke itsetse Shakespeare mo lotlatlaneng. 
Ka ngoaga oo ka okoa ke dipolelo tsa ko- 
ranta ea Teemane ka ea go bona Makgooa 
mo Theatereng ea Kimberley a tshameka 
polelo eaga Hamkt y e e mo bukeng ngoe 
ea gagoe. Motshameko o oa ntlhotlheletsa 
go tlhotlhomisa dikoalo tsa gagoe. Ko ga 
rona mafoko a santse a boleloa ka mo- 
lomo ka maitisho ; ere re tlotla ka maa- 
banyane ke fitlhele ke ana go feta balekane 
baaka, ka ke ne ke male mocoedi o o sa 
kgaleng mo bontsintsing joa buka tsaga 

Pele-pele ke badile polelo ea Segoaba sa 
Venice, ka fitlhela batho ba ba boleloang 
ke buka eo ba choana thata le batshedi ba 
ba itsegeng. Ga bo go nale dimokolara 
dingoe ko Teemaneng, ka tla ka utloa, ke 
se na go bolela mafoko a buka eo, tsala 
ngoe eaka e mpotsa gore, ke ofe oa dimo 
kolara tseo, eo Shakespeare o mmitsang 
Shy lock. Moo gotlhe ga ira gore ke nyo- 
reloe dikoalo tsaga Tsikinya-Chaka. Erile 
ke ntse ke di balela pele ka fitlhela maele 
ale mantsi, a bachomi ba kgabisang puo 
ka one a ke ne ke itlhoma ele diane tsa 
Sekgooa ese diane, ele dinopolo tsa ma- 
bolelo aga Shakespeare. 

Erile ke bala polelo eaga Cymbeline ka 

I had but a vague idea of Shake 
speare until about 1896 when, at 
the age of 18, I was attracted by 
the Press remarks in the Kimberley 
paper, and went to see Hamlet in 
the Kimberley Theatre. The per 
formance made me curious to know 
more about Shakespeare and his 
works. Intelligence in Africa is 
still carried from mouth to mouth 
by means of conversations after 
working hours, and, reading a 
number of Shakespeare's works, 
I always had a fresh story to tell. 

I first read The Merchantof Venice. 

The characters were so realistic 
that I was asked more than once to 
which of certain speculators, then 
operating round Kimberley, Shake 
speare referred as Shylock. 

All this gave me an appetite for 
more Shakespeare, and I found that 
many of the current quotations used 
by educated natives to embellish 
their speeches, which I had always 
taken for English proverbs, were 
culled from Shakespeare's works. 

While reading Cymbeline, I met 



rakana le kgarebe e gompieno eleng 'ma- 
bana baa ka. Eare ka ke ne ke ese ke 
itse segagabo Setebele saga 'Ma-Magana 
Tshegana jaaka jaanong ; lefa ene a ne a 
itse segaecho Secoana saga Tau a Mo- 
coala Tshega ka bo ke belaela gore a jaana 
nka mo senolela boteng oa maikutlo aaka 
ka shone : ke fa re tla dumalana go buisana 
ka loleme loa barutegi, ebong Senyesemane 
shoora Tsikinya-Chaka, se ka nako eo ene 
ele shone puo ea Goromente oa rona. 
Khane tse re ne re di koalalana ka metlha 
di ne dile kana ka tsela ea Kgalagadi ; 
gonne ene eare ke simolotse ka gore ke 
bolela maikutlo a pelo eame, ke fitlhele ke 
shoeditse ka go 'melegololela bojotlhe joa 
mooa oa me. Fa ele ka manyama a puo 
le go kanolola dikakanyo tsa dilo tse di sa 
bonoeng phenyo ea mekoalo eaka e ne e 
lekalekana fela le ea mosadi oaka. Ke se 
se tlhomameng gore megopolo ea rona e 
ne e ntse logedioa ke dikoma tsaga Tsi 

Koalo longoe loa gagoe lo re lo badileng 
ka nako eo ke phereano ea bo Romeo le 
Julieta. Go leredioa ngoetsi eo o buang 
puo e e thoantshang loleme. Jaaka Seku- 
dukama, bagaecho ba ne ba go ila sefefehu ; 
bagagabo le bone fela jalo, ba ila mogoe eo 
o puo e sa tlalang, e sa thoantsheng loleme. 
Lefagontsejalo ra se ka ra shoetsa ka go 
shoela ko diphupung jaka bo Romeo le 
kgarebe ea gagoe ; ebile baga rona gom 
pieno ba itumelela bana ba rona, dikoko- 
mana tsa madi a a pekanyeng, ba ba puo 
pedi ko loapeng le ko Khooeng. 

Mo tshimologong ea 'moeleoele ono 
ke gore ka 1901 ka simolola tiro ea diko- 
ranta ; ere fa ke koala dikgang tsa kago, 
tsa musho, le tsa ditlhabano ke di none ka 

the girl who afterwards became 
my wife. I was not then as well 
acquainted with her language the 
Xosa as I am now ; and although 
she had a better grip of mine the 
Sechuana I was doubtful whether 
I could make her understand my 
innermost feelings in it, so in com 
ing to an understanding we both 
used the language of educated peo 
ple the language which Shake 
speare wrote which happened to 
be the only official language of our 
country at the time. 

Some of the daily epistles were 
rather lengthy, for I usually started 
with the bare intention of express 
ing the affections of my heart but 
generally finished up by completely 
unburdening my soul. For com 
mand of language and giving 
expression to abstract ideas, the 
success of my efforts was second 
only to that of my wife's, and it is 
easy to divine that Shakespeare's 
poems fed our thoughts. 

It may be depended upon that we 
both read Romeo and Juliet. 

My people resented the idea of my 
marrying a girl who spoke a lan 
guage which, like the Hottentot 
language, had clicks in it ; while 
her people likewise abominated the 
idea of giving their daughter in 
marriage to a fellow who spoke a 
language so imperfect as to be with 
out any clicks. But the civilized 
laws of Cape Colony saved us from 
a double tragedy in a cemetery, and 
our erstwhile objecting relatives 
have lived to award their benedic 
tion to the growth of our Chuana- 
M'Bo family which is bilingual both 
in the vernaculars and in European 

In the beginning of this century 
I became a journalist, and when 
called on to comment on things 


mabolelo aga Shakespeare. Ka 1910, jaka 
Mochochonono o phakaletse mo mago di- 
mong, King Edward VII le Kgosi dile pedi 
tsa Becoana bo Sebele le Bathoeng tsaa 
shoa. Ka tlhadia kitsisho tsa dincho tsa 
bone ka tsela tsaga Shakespeare tse di- 
reng : 

Eare fa dikhutsana dii sboa 

Re se ke re bone naledi tse di megatla; 

Motlhango go shoang dikgosi 

Go tuka le magodimo ka osi. 

Ereka Becoana ele ditlapela tsa tlholego, 
ebile ba rata go maitisho, mabolelo a a 
ntseng jalo a atisa go ba gapa dipelo. Go 
tloga fong, eare ke phakeletse ko Kgosing 
ko Goo Ra-Tshi di, morenana mongoe a 
mpotsa leina ja Khooe eo itseng gobua eo. 
Kgosana ngoe ea mochomi eabo ele fa 
kgotla, ea itlhaganela ea nkarabela ; eare : 
William Tsikinya-Chaka. Lefa toloko di 
se ke di dumalana ka metlha, mo pheto- 
long ea leina je re kare kgosana e tantse 
jaka kama gonne bontsi joa batho ba ba 
umakoang mo mabolelong aga Shakespeare 
bo shule ka chaka. 

A jaana go ithata bo morafe game gase 
gone go nthatisang dibuka tsaga Tsikinya- 
Chaka. Nka rarabolola poco e ka sechoan- 
cho sa mothale o mongoe se se mphero- 
sang sebete fela jaka Tsikinya-Chaka a 

Nkile ka ea go bona motshameko oa 
cinematograph (dichoancho tse di tsa- 
maeang), oa dipogo tsa Morena. Ka 
fitlhela batho botlhe ko papolong ea Mo 
rena ele dichoancho tsa Makgooa. Bo 
Pilato, Baperisita le Simone oa Kireneo 
tota botlhe-lele ele Makgooa. Mocoana 
o na ale esi fela mo loferetlhong loo, ene 

social, political, or military, I always 
found inspiration in one or other 
of Shakespeare's sayings. For 
instance, in 1910, when Halley's 
Comet illumined the Southern 
skies, King Edward VII and two 
great Bechuana Chiefs Sebele and 
Bathoeng died. I commenced 
each obituary with Shakespeare's 
quotation : 

When beggars die there are no 

comets seen ; 
The heavens themselves blaze 

forth the death of princes. 

Besides being natural story-tellers, 
the Bechuana are good listeners, 
and legendary stories seldom fail 
to impress them. Thus, one morn 
ing, I visited the Chiefs court at 
Mafeking and was asked for the 
name of ' the white man who spoke 
so well'. An educated Chieftain 
promptly replied for me ; he said : 
William Tsikinya-Chaka (William 
Shake-the-Sword). The transla 
tion, though perhaps more free 
than literal, is happy in its way 
considering how many of Shake 
speare's characters met their death. 
Tsikinya - Chaka became noted 
among some of my readers as a 
reliable white oracle. 

It is just possible that selfish patriot 
ism is at the bottom of my admira 
tion for Shakespeare. To illustrate 
my meaning let me take a case 
showing how feelings of an opposite 
kind were roused in me. 

I once went to see a cinematograph 
show of the Crucifixion. All the 
characters in the play, including 
Pilate, the Priests, and Simon of 
Cyrene, were white men. Accord 
ing to the pictures, the only black 
man in the mob was Judas Iscariot. 



ele Jutase. Esale jalo ke tlhoboga maaka 
a dibaesekopo, le gompieno mono London 
ke bonye ngoe ea macodimacoke e shupa 
maatlametlo a Makgooa e a bapisa le ko- 
keco ea boboko e e makgapha ea boatla joa 

Koalo tsag-a Tsikinya-Chaka di nkgatlha 
ka gobo di shupa fa maatlametlo le bonatla 
(jaaka boatla le bogatlapa) di sa tlhaole 

I have since become suspicious of 
the veracity of the cinema and 
acquired a scepticism which is not 
diminished by a gorgeous one now 
exhibited in London which shows, 
side by side with the nobility of 
the white race, a highly coloured 
exaggeration of the depravity of 
the blacks. 

Shakespeare's dramas, on the other 
hand, show that nobility and valour, 
like depravity and cowardice, are 
not the monopoly of any colour. 

Ke nyaga dile 300 jaanong Tsikinya- 
Chaka a shule, 'me ekete o na a tlhalo- 
ganya maitseo a batho ba gompieno thata. 
Kafa mabolelo a gagoe e lolameng ka teng 
(lefa gompieno re koalalana le lefatshe 
jotlhe ka bonako joa logadima, ebile re 
tedieaganya ka makoloi a a ikgarametsang) 
ekete re santse re tlhaela manontlhotlho a 

Re santse re le mo pakeng tsa borathana 
joa dikoalo tsa Afrika. Gola tlhe ea kre fa 
di golela pele bakoadi le batoloki ba gati- 
setsa Bancho mabolelo mangoe aga Tsi 
kinya-Chaka. Ke buisioa ke go bo ke 
fitlhela ekete ekare fa re lateletse ra fitlhela 
a theiloe mo metheong e e dumalanang le 
oa maele mangoe a Afrika. 

Shakespeare lived over 300 years 
ago, but he appears to have had a 
keen grasp of human character. His 
description of things seems so in 
wardly correct that (in spite of our 
rapid means of communication and 
facilities for travelling) we of the 
present age have not yet equalled 
his acumen. 

It is to be hoped that with the 
maturity of African literature, now 
still in its infancy, writers and trans 
lators will consider the matter of 
giving to Africans the benefit of 
some at least of Shakespeare's 
works. That this could be done 
is suggested by the probability that 
some of the stories on which his 
dramas are based find equivalents 
in African folk-lore. 




NOT in marble or bronze, the sum of thy lineaments ; 
Not in colour or line that painter or graver may trace. 
Out of the kingdom of vision, gleaming, transcendent, immortal, 
Issue thy creatures and step into vesture of time and place 
Each with passion and pulse of thy heart ; but, passing the portal, 

Each in likeness of us. And listening, wondering, 
Lo, from the lips of each we gather a thought of thy Face ! 

Nature walleth her womb with wreckage of history : 
Touch, O Poet, thy lyre, and heart-beats frozen in stone 
Tremble to life once more to the towers of pain and of pity 

Build themselves into thee, thy ramparts of rapture and moan, 
Cry with a human voice from the passioning walls of thy city 

Hamlets, Richards, Cordelias, prisoned, oblivious, 
Dateless minions of death, till summoned by thee alone. 

Fortune maketh of men pipes for her fingering ; 
Thou hast made of thine England music of nobler employ : 
Men whose souls are their own ; whose breastplate, honour untainted ; 
Of promise precise, God-fearing, abhorring the dreams that destroy 
The Moloch of Force ensky'd, the ape of Necessity sainted ; 

To country and freedom true ; merciful, generous, 
Valiant to merit in Fate the heart 's-ease mortals enjoy. 

Shaper, thou, of the tongue ! Under the Pleiades, 
Under the Southern Cross, under the Boreal Crown, 
Where there 's a mother's lap and a little one seeking a story, 

Where there 's a teacher or parson, or player come to the town 
Mage of the opaline phrase, meteoric, dissolving in glory, 
Splendid lord of the word predestined, immutable 
Children are learning thy English and handing the heritage down. 


Who but opens thy book : odorous memories 
Breathe of the dear, dear land, sceptred and set in the sea. 
Her primrose pale, her sweet o' the year, have savour and semblance 

For Perditas woo'd in the tropics and Florizels tutored by thee. 
The rue of her sea- walled garden, the rosemary, wake to remembrance 

Where furrowed exiles from home, wintered with pilgriming, 
Yearn for the white-faced shores, and turn thy page on the knee. 

No philosopher, thou : best of philosophers ! 
Blood and judgement commingled are masters of self-control. 
Poet of common sense, reality, weeping, and laughter : 
Not in the caverns of Time, not in the tides that roll 
On the high shore of this world, not in the dim hereafter 

In reason and sorrow, the hope ; in mercy, the mystery : 
By selling hours of dross we enrich the moment of soul. 

Poet, thou, of the Blood : of states and of nations 
Passing thy utmost dream, in the uttermost corners of space ! 
Poet, thou, of my countrymen born to the speech, O Brother, 

Born to the law and freedom, proud of the old embrace, 
Born of the Mayflower, born of Virginia born of the Mother ! 

Poet, thou of the Mother ! the blood of America, 
Turning in tribute to thee, revisits the Heart of the Race. 





Vouchsafe to those that have not read the story, 
That I may prompt them. Henry V, prol., Act V. 

THOSE visitors to Stratford-on-Avon who have wisely arranged 
that their sojourn covers the 23rd of April are not likely soon to forget 
one distinguishing feature of the ceremonies whereby that day is marked. 
Not the streets and lanes gay with garlands and flags ; not the impressive 
yet simple service in the church ; but the sight of the long procession 
formed of young and old men, women, children all bearing flowers, 
either in bunches or in single blooms, and all, in a spirit of homage and 
reverence, with but one intent from the small boy with his bunch of 
primroses or cowslips plucked in the lovely Warwickshire lanes, to the 
dignified Mayor and Town Council with their elaborate wreaths of 
laurel. With one intent : that of paying tribute to the memory of 
Shakespeare by placing some offering upon his grave, beneath that 
monument in Trinity Church. Slowly the throng files past, each 
depositing their weedy trophies upon that shrine, until, where before 
there were but bare grey stones, there is now a veritable mound of 
violets, roses, daffodils, and green grasses. Fortunate ones ! they may 
thus give an outward and tangible expression of what they feel. But 
what of us, less fortunate ones ? We of the New World, who own 
a common heritage in Shakespeare by right of birth and language. 
Our thoughts turn naturally towards that common goal, even as the 
face of the Moslem turns towards Mecca. From the four corners of 
the earth they come to kiss this shrine, and that procession slowly 
passing through the streets of Stratford is typical of all who wish to pay 
homage to Shakespeare in this year which marks the three hundredth 
anniversary of his death. May we not, each one, bring what offering 
is in our power ? Happy he, indeed, whose tribute shall prove to be 
made of immortelles, but happy also, he whose gift shines brightly 
if only for that one day. These reverent gifts honour the givers more 
than the recipient. Could any one hope to add one leaf to the laurels 
on Shakespeare's brow ? We cannot make the service greater than the 


god. Yet, granting this, there is a certain distinctive mark of honour 
upon this tribute which comes from America. It is a record of over 
half a century's devotion to the reading and careful study of Shakespeare's 
Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies ; the homage paid by the Shakspere 
Society of Philadelphia. (This spelling of the name was adopted by the 
Society in its corporate title, and has therefore been strictly preserved.) 

The origin of the Society is of the simplest. In the year 1852 four 
young men, then studying for the bar, sought a means of relaxation 
from their prosaic studies, and therefore decided to meet each week, for 
certain hours in the evening, with no purpose other than to read and 
study the plays of Shakespeare. The prime mover and chief of this 
small coterie was Asa Israel Fish, a man of wide culture, and a lover of 
both classic and English poetry. He had the happy faculty of gathering 
about him men of kindred tastes, and of causing them to give of their 
best ; he was thus eminently fitted for the leadership of this band of 
brothers, these happy few. In those early days the members spoke 
of themselves as the * Shakspere Apostles ', not with any irreverent idea, 
but rather in imitation of the distinguished English Club of Apostles, 
to which frequent reference is made in Bristed's Five Years in an English 
University, and as their number increased it soon became a custom to 
gather at a commemoration dinner, on a date usually towards the end 
of December. Six years after the inception of the Society the number 
of members had grown to seventeen, and it was then agreed that, accor 
dingly, a regular organization with a more systematic course of study 
was advisable. Although from the beginning Fish had nominally been 
the head, yet now he was duly elected as the new organization's Dean, 
which office he held until his death in 1879. 

The Society, as such, was now fairly started, and its records were, 
for the first time, reduced to writing, but there was no thought of a 
series of publications as had been the aim of other literary societies, 
and in this respect the Shakspere Society of Philadelphia is in a class 
of its own. Contributions by members have from time to time been 
printed, but for private circulation only. 

Thus regularly organized, the Society grew and flourished, and the 
nucleus of a library, for use during the meetings, was soon developed. 
Under the personal supervision of the Dean the collection grew to 
nearly six hundred volumes, and might in time have grown to valuable 
dimensions had it not been unfortunately lost to the Society by the 
death of its chief custodian. The volumes were set apart in Mr. Fish's 
library, but were unrecognized as the property of others when his own 
books were sold by his executors. A set of Boswell's Malone, Staunton's 

Z 2 


facsimile of the Folio, and an imperfect set of the Ashbee Quarto fac 
similes were saved, since they had been at the Society's rooms ; but, 
lacking a complete list of the other volumes in the Dean's charge, the 
other books could not be reclaimed. But this is anticipating, and we 
must return to the earlier annals, although it is quite unnecessary to 
detail the work of the Society year by year. The plays were read and 
studied, with discussion and explanation, the Dean presiding and 
directing the flow of reason at the bi-weekly meetings, and the minutes 
duly chronicle the growing popularity of these gatherings followed 
by a mild refection and the elaborate fare provided at their annual 
commemoration dinners, still held towards the end of December. 
The year 1861 will be ever held as memorable in the history of our 
country, and no less prominent, though for far different reasons, must 
this year be held in the history of the Shakspere Society, for on March 12, 
1 86 1, it received its charter and became a corporate body. Be it noted 
in passing that our Society thus antedates by three years the Deutsche 
Shakespeare- Gesellschaft, which was founded in 1864 in commemora 
tion of the three-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. 

A clause in this charter provides that an annual meeting be held 
on the 23rd of April for the election of officers and the transaction of 
business. This it was which caused a change from one of the old esta 
blished customs wherein the commemoration dinner, heretofore held 
in December, was transferred to follow the annual meeting in April, 
and it has thus continued ever since. The propriety of such a change 
had long been recognized, but was overruled by the Dean, who feared 
that the spring months would never furnish dishes sufficiently delectable 
for a function so important. It is, however, recorded that he now 
yielded, and this excellent change was made chiefly on the suggestion 
of Horace Howard Furness, who was then Secretary of the Society. 

During those troublous years of the civil war the members realized 
the impropriety of an appearance, even, of festivity, and therefore the 
annual dinners were discontinued, although their bi-weekly meetings 
mainly composed of those members whose years made them ineligible 
for service were still held in a desultory fashion. 

Richard L. Ashhurst was a member at this time he became Vice- 
Dean later and wrote a short history of the Society ; therein he presents 
the following graphic description of one of those meetings : 

The members were seated on both sides of the long table, at the head of which the 
Dean was seated. Which of us can forget the affectionate glance over his spectacles as we 
entered, half-reproachful if some were late ? Each member had before him one or more 



editions of the play. In front of the Dean stood a row of dictionaries and books of 
reference, Mrs. Clarke's Concordance, Sidney Walker, &c. We had not then the invaluable 
Schmidt. . . . Nothing that I remember was more marked in its fruitfulness to us younger 
members than discussions between Professor Short and Dr. Krauth, the tendency of the 
mind of the former being rather to a rigid or literal exegesis, while with the other the 
poetic judgement and sympathetic insight had ever sway. While over all the debates our 
dear Dean presided with his solemn courtesy, seeming often to be swayed himself backward 
and forward with the drift of the argument. 

With but a very slight change this may be taken as typical of meetings 
even down to the present day. The historian also notes that in these 
later times the study is much more discursive and exhaustive than in 
the earlier, and that consequently longer extracts of the winter's study 
were covered at each session. It was formerly quite usual to read an 
entire Act in one evening ; but now this would be decidedly the excep 
tion, a hundred lines being the ordinary amount. 

The year 1864 1S an ever-memorable one to all Shakespearians : 
it may be called the zenith to the nadir of the present year, and the 
Society showed its recognition of an occasion so important by resuming 
its annual dinner on the 23rd of April. This season was also one of 
peculiar productiveness, inasmuch as the Notes on The Tempest, the 
winter's study, contributed by various members, were not only carefully 
reduced to writing, as heretofore, but also elaborately printed. This 
was a distinct innovation, and even yet forms the most permanent 
memorial of the work of the Shakspere Society. The edition was 
strictly limited ; copies are now esteemed rarities, and seldom, if ever, 
have been offered for sale. 

In the spring of 1865 the whole nation was contracted in one brow 
of woe over the assassination of the President, and the Society, again 
feeling that the annual festivity would be unbefitting, omitted it. 

It is a fact known to but a few, that to the studies and work of the 
Shakspere Society may be directly traced the inception of the new 
Variorum Edition of Shakespeare. During the season of 1866-7 tne 
play read in the winter's study was Romeo and Juliet, and it was noticed 
by Horace Howard Furness that frequently a whole evening's work of 
discussion and comment on the variations of the texts had been antici 
pated in the notes of those commentators subsequent to the Variorum 
of 1821, which edition, heretofore, had formed the groundwork for the 
Society's discussion. In that edition the comments of all former editors 
are given, but the textual notes are sadly deficient. In the monumental 
Cambridge edition of Clark and Wright the textual notes are exhaustive 
and complete, but the commentary consists of a few explanatory notes 


at the end of each play ; this is, however, no deficiency the avowed 
purpose of the Cambridge editors was but to furnish a text based 
mainly upon that of existing quartos. The need of an edition which 
should combine the features of both these editions on a single page was 
at once recognized, and the work of gathering and classifying the notes 
was undertaken by the Secretary, primarily as an aid to the work of 
the Society. Its value to other students was at once apparent, since it 
practically formed a continuation of the Variorum of 1821, and with the 
stimulus of their encouragement the editor began preparing his manu 
script for the press . The volume, Romeo and Juliet, was published in 1 87 1 , 
two years after its inception, and is dedicated to the Shakspere Society. 

It is needless here to speak of the character of that volume, or of 
those which followed and now form a lasting memorial of that most able 
editor. Their worth is written in their own pages, and the Shakspere 
Society may well feel proud that so great a flood has flowed from so 
clear a source. 

The year 1869 also marks the establishment of the Society upon 
a firmer foundation, and the annual dinners have been held with 
scarcely an interruption since that time. A distinctive feature of these 
dinners must be mentioned : as far back as 1856 the commemoration 
dinner was marked by an elaborate bill of fare, whereon each dish was 
characterized by a quotation. The ingenuity of the members was taxed 
even to the uttermost to provide a line or passage descriptive of the 
various wines and edibles, and there was no restriction as to choice 
so long as it was made from one of the plays or poems of Shakespeare. 
In 1869 the winter's study was Richard //, and it was then decided that 
for the bill of fare all the quotations should be from this play only ; the 
result was most successful, and from that time this rule in regard to 
the bills has been strictly followed. In 1879 tne death of Asa Israel Fish 
deprived the Society of one who had so ably piloted it through times of 
stress into those of quiet, and his loss was deeply mourned. He was 
succeeded as Dean by Horace Howard Furness, which office was held 
by him until his death in 1912, and he was then succeeded by the present 

These short and simple annals may well close here ; they are a 
record of our loving homage to Shakespeare. This then be our tribute 
which, in thought, we reverently place before that glowing shrine 
towards which all thoughts this year are turning. 




THERE is a fame that is founded on the verdict of the many ; there 
is a fame that is founded on the verdict of the few : and, especially in 
the domain of art, it is seldom that the two verdicts coincide, to make 
the vote unanimous. 

In all the arts except the drama, the verdict of the few is immeasur 
ably more important than the verdict of the many. Artistic taste 
requires cultivation ; the majority of people are uncultivated ; therefore 
the taste of the majority is very likely to be wrong. The fame of Milton 
is secure ; but it is based upon the verdict of a very small minority. 
If, by a thorough census of the English-speaking world, we should 
determine exactly the number of people who have read Paradise Lost 
from the outset to the end, not for any fancied sense of duty but for sheer 
aesthetic and intelligent delight, we should doubtless be appalled by 
the paucity of the enumeration. Why, in the face of such neglect, does 
the fame of Milton's epic still endure ? Why is the verdict of the culti 
vated few more powerful than that of the uncultivated many ? It is 
because, in the long leisure of the centuries, the vote of the minority is 
repeated generation after generation and acquires emphasis by repeti 
tion. There have always been a few who knew that Paradise Lost 
is a great poem ; there are now a few who know it ; there will always 
be a few who know it : and, after many centuries, the host accumulated 
from this imperishable succession of minorities will outnumber the 
majority of any single generation. On the other hand, the immediate 
verdict of the multitude in favour of such a poem as Lucille will 
ultimately fail, because it cannot repeat itself perpetually, through 
generation after generation. Popularity is fleeting, because the popu 
lace is fickle. At the present time, the paintings of Sir John Everett 
Millais are more generally enjoyed than the paintings of Whistler ; but, 
when the toll of all the centuries comes ultimately to be counted, the 
few who have always appreciated Whistler will show themselves more 
mighty than the many who at one time preferred his more popular 
contemporary. It is in this way that the few outvote the many, 


concerning questions of artistic taste ; it is in this regard that Henrik 
Ibsen's famous dictum must be accepted as a statement of the truth 
' The minority is always right.' 

But the drama differs from all the other arts in the fact that its 
primary purpose is to interest and entertain the multitude ; it is the 
only art which is required to appeal at once to the popular majority. 
In this particular province of the general domain of art, the verdict of 
the many outweighs the verdict of the few. Throughout the entire 
history of the theatre, no dramatist who has failed to interest the general 
public of his own day has ever attained a subsequent reversal of the 
verdict. A poet, like Milton, may be considered great because of the 
repeated vote of a perpetual minority ; but a dramatist can be considered 
great only if everybody likes him, and the continuance of his fame 
depends directly on the continuance of his popularity. 

It must, therefore, be regarded as a paradox that our greatest 
dramatist should also be our greatest poet that the one writer of our 
English language who has supremely satisfied the few should also be 
the one playwright who has completely satisfied the many. The poet 
writes for a minority of one that is to say, primarily for himself, and 
secondarily for such individuals as may be sympathetic with his mus 
ings ; but the dramatist, by the conditions of his craft, must write for 
what Victor Hugo called the mob. To be able to make both of these 
appeals at once, to achieve simultaneously these two totally different 
endeavours, is the unique accomplishment of William Shakespeare. 

No other play has ever been so popular, no other play has ever been 
acted so many times or has drawn in the aggregate so much money to 
the box-office, as the tragedy of Hamlet. Yet this piece, which has been 
so emphatically acclaimed by the uncultivated many, is praised no less 
highly by the cultivated few. It was planned by a great playwright ; 
it was written by a great poet. * Some quality of the brute incident ' 
to quote a phrase of Robert Louis Stevenson's interests and entertains 
the most illiterate, while the most literate admire the philosophical 
subtlety of the thought and marvel at the inimitable eloquence of the 
style. The costermonger in the gallery is thrilled when he sees the 
hero dash the poisoned cup from the hands of Horatio ; and, simultane 
ously, the Matthew Arnold in the stalls is thrilled by the sheer poetic 
eloquence of the incidental line 

Absent thee from felicity a while. 

It is precisely because of this paradox because he is capable of 
appealing simultaneously and with equal emphasis to the costermonger 


and to the apostle of culture that Shakespeare is our greatest hero. 
His fame is founded equally upon the verdict of the many and upon the 
verdict of the few. His work is both popular and precious ; it is enjoyed 
by the majority and approved by the minority. There can never be 
a question of his eminence ; for the vote is utterly unanimous. 

There are two tests of greatness in a man ; and these tests are 
antithetic to each other. First, a man may be great because he resembles 
a vast multitude of other people ; or, second, a man may be great 
because he differs vastly from everybody else. It is a sign of greatness 
to be representative ; it is also a sign of greatness to be unique. The 
representative man in the great phrase of Walt Whitman * contains 
multitudes ' ; and, when we grow to know him, we know his nation 
and his time, and guess at all humanity. The unique man, on the other 
hand, contains nothing but himself ; but this peculiar entity is capable 
of appearing, for a focused moment of attention, the most interesting 
object in the world. In the history of American literature, for instance, 
the personality of Edgar Allan Poe is unique and the personality of 
Benjamin Franklin is representative. Poe is interesting because he 
differs so emphatically from everybody else, and Franklin is interesting 
because he so emphatically resembles everybody else in eighteenth- 
century America. Poe is peculiar ; Franklin contains multitudes. 
Each is great ; but they are great for antithetic reasons. 

The paradox of Shakespeare is that he is great in both of these 
regards. On the one hand, he is enormously representative. He con 
tains all Elizabethan England, and resumes and utters nearly all that 
humanity has ever thought and felt. On the other hand, as a literary 
artist, he stands unique. No other writer, before or since, has at all 
approached his tumultuous and overwhelming eloquence. 

It is the project of the popular great dramatist to agree with 
the majority to make articulate to the contemporary multitude the 
thoughts and feelings that are latent in the mob. It is the project of the 
unpopular great poet to agree with the minority to lead the questing 
mind to pioneer among adventures that are strange and new. These 
two projects are totally distinct, and seem irreconcilable. Shakespeare 
has reconciled them. It is for this reason that we acclaim him, not 
illogically, as the greatest writer of our language, the biggest hero of 
our race. 





WE, in America, claim Shakespeare as our own, not merely because 
of the rich heritage of our English ancestry, but because Shakespeare, 
in a peculiar sense, belongs to the world. He is not the product of any 
particular age or race or land. He transcends the limits of his own 
tongue. His genius has created a universal language, the language of 
humanity. His characters, drawn as particular persons, have become 
universal types, the concrete living expression of the abstract virtues 
and vices of human nature. His words of wisdom have become folk 
proverbs, whose origin, in many minds, is unknown or forgotten, and 
yet employed so constantly in the daily commerce of thought as to 
become an habitual mode of expressing the elemental experiences com 
mon to all mankind. 

Shakespeare 's psychology is unerring. The strength and weakness 
of man, his possibilities for good or evil, the subtle play of motives 
which reveals character and determines conduct, the sophistries of self- 
deception, the inner fires which burn out the soul or lighten its aspiring 
desire towards arduous attainment, the sin, the folly, and the glory of 
mankind, both the depths and the heights of human nature, all this 
Shakespeare has expressed in words of such convincing reality and 
simplicity as to leave no one who hears them a stranger to himself. 

Shakespeare expresses for us thoughts which we have faintly felt, 
yet never can put in words. And when we hear them, even for the first 
time, there is a suggestion of familiarity about them. We recognize them 
as our own ideas discovered for us by this prophet of the human soul. 

To speak a universal tongue, appealing to all men of all races and 
of all ages, the true thought must find its expression in perfect form. 
There must be the beauty of proportion and of symmetry, the beauty 
of rhythm and of emotional colouring, the creative sense which fashions 
its word elements, with which it builds into a balanced mass of structural 
strength and grace. Shakespeare is the great architect in the guild of 
letters, the master workman. Whether it be a temple or wayside 
shrine, it is for all comers a place of refreshment and invigoration, a spot 
where we feel impelled to renew our vows and go on our way with new 
faith and new courage. 




ENGLAND, that gavest to the world so much 

Full-breathing freedom, law's security, 

The sense of justice (though we be not just) 

What gift of thine is fellow unto this 

Imperishable treasure of the mind, 

Enrichment of dim ages yet to be ! 

Gone is the pomp of kings save in his page, 

Where by imagination's accolade 

He sets the peasant in the royal rank. 

Love, like a lavish fountain, here overflows 

In the full speech of tender rhapsody. 

He dreamed our dreams for us. His the one voice 

Of all humanity. Or knave or saint, 

He shows us kindred. Partisan of none, 

Before the world's censorious judgement seat 

We find him still the advocate of each, 

Portraying motive as our best defence. 

Historian of the soul in this strange star 

Where Vice and Virtue interchange their masks ; 

Diviner of life's inner mysteries, 

He yet bereaves it not of mystery's charm, 

And makes us all the wounds of life endure 

For all the balm of beauty. 

England now, 

When so much gentle has been turned to mad, 
When peril threatens all we thought most safe, 
When honour crumbles, and on Reason's throne 
Black Hate usurps the ermine, oh, do thou 
Remember Force is still the Caliban 
And Mind the Prospero. Keep the faith he taught ; 


Speak with his voice for Freedom, Justice, Law, 

Ay, and for Pity, lest we sink to brutes. 

Shame the fierce foe with Shakespeare's noble word 

Say, * England was not born to feed the maw 

Of starved Oblivion.' Let thine ardent youth 

Kindle to flame at royal Hal's behest, 

And thy wise elders glow with Gaunt 's farewell. 

His pages are the charter of our race. 

Let him but lead thy leaders, thou shalt stand 

Thy Poet's England, true and free and strong : 

By his ideals shalt thou conqueror be, 

For God hath made of him an element, 

Nearest Himself in universal power. 




PROBABLY no personal tribute could have been given by any one 
in the last three hundred years which would have aroused in William 
Shakespeare, as he looks down upon us, if not his gratification, at least 
his tolerant amusement to such a degree as the ant-like industry ex 
pended upon his plays in the last half-century. In consequence of this 
industry particularly as focused upon the stage-setting and the general 
conditions of the Elizabethan theatre we have a more accurate and 
more sympathetic understanding of what his plays meant to his audiences 
and to himself than men have had at any time since the closing of 
the theatres by the great Civil War. Furthermore, the disclosure of the 
approximate chronology of the plays has made possible a replacement 
of the eighteenth-century conception of a monstrous barbaric genius, 
capable of all things, but chaotic in ideas, in art, and in style, by a truer 
conception of a genius, of the very first order to be sure, but passing 
through a marvellously regular, as well as marvellously rapid, develop 
ment of ideas and of style, and in perfect command of all the technical 
artistic methods and resources of renaissance culture. 

Despite all these gains, however, much work still remains to be 
done if we are to eliminate from the plays which bear Shakespeare's 
name the alien elements, and to arrive at an accurate conception of his 
mind and character, his methods of work, and his cultural equipment. 
We shall find, it may safely be asserted, that, in the first place, his cultural 
equipment his acquaintance with the great literature of the past and 
his familiarity with the theories of art and of composition was greater 
than even we have been accustomed to suppose ; and, in the second 
place, that, although as a practical dramatist he kept his eyes steadily 
on his audience and made use of every sensational device and trick 
that theatrical experience had developed up to his day, he nevertheless 
had a genuine, personal, unremunerable interest in the poetic quality 
of his work. 

To suggest a complete programme of such study would exceed the 


present limits of space, but two tasks lie so near at hand and are essential 
to so many others that they may be emphasized here. 

In the first place, despite the labours of two hundred years, the 
text of the plays still needs to be established by scientific instead of 
haphazard impressionistic methods. Textual criticism has only recently 
become scientific, and scarcely one of our great English writers has 
profited as yet by its achievements. Chaucer and Shakespeare have 
profited scarcely at all, mainly because of the accumulated mass of 
traditional rubbish which we have not had the courage to discard. We 
still record and discuss the errors and guesses of the second, third, and 
fourth folios of Shakespeare's plays as if they were deserving of respect. 
The first step toward the establishment of a critical text an absolute 
prerequisite to any further sound work would seem to be the applica 
tion to the first folio of the principles and methods of editing Elizabethan 
texts so clearly and convincingly expounded by Mr. R. B. McKerrow. 
That much labour is demanded by such methods is true ; but half the 
time expended in making casual, and therefore futile, record of variants 
between extant copies of the early folios would have accomplished the 
task and have provided us with an unassailable basis for all future 
textual criticism of Shakespeare. 

More important, as well as more difficult, than this task seems that 
of providing the means of distinguishing, if possible, the non- Shake 
spearian elements which still, after years of diligent guesswork, un 
doubtedly remain in the plays, not unrecognized but for the present 
incapable of convincing indication. 

Almost all attempts to discover by stylistic and metrical tests the 
authors of anonymous Elizabethan plays or the unknown collaborators 
in plays of multiple authorship have remained unconvincing, except 
to the would-be discoverers. The same situation exists in other periods 
of English literature. The main reason for this is probably that other 
students have a feeling clearly or dimly formulated that we have as 
yet no corpus of stylistic characters which enables us to form a critical 
judgement of such attempts. The evidences of similarity or of difference 
which the investigator may produce, lack force and convincing quality 
-because we do not know the range of possibility in such matters. 

Some of the most industrious studies intended to demonstrate that 
this piece of literature was the work of Chaucer, that of Shakespeare, 
that of Massinger or Middleton or Marston, have succeeded in con 
vincing some of us only of what we already knew : namely, that the 
piece was the work of an English writer of the fourteenth, the sixteenth, 


or the seventeenth century, as the case may be. Further than this we 
shall never be able to proceed until we have built up a corpus of technical 
facts in two fields. 

If any one knows what are the essential stylistic (as distinguished 
from the purely linguistic) discrimina of English speech in any age, or of 
any great writer, he is at least incapable of conveying his conclusions 
to the rest of us because of the lack of any definite and intelligible 
medium of communication. We need, then, in the first place, such 
a study of the general characteristics of the English language in each 
age as M. Ch. Bailly has attempted to collect for the French language 
of the present day in his Manuel de Stylistique and his Precis. In the 
second place, we need a similar collection of the stylistic peculiarities 
or characters of individual writers. 

It is obvious that trustworthy collections of this sort can be made 
only by beginning with the language of our own day, in regard to 
which we are able to control with practical certainty the sources of our 





INGENIOUS wits have often amused themselves by imagining the 
possible return of a departed genius that he might mingle for a few 
hours with men of the present generation ; and they have humorously 
speculated upon his emotions when he found himself once again in 
the life he had left centuries earlier. They have wondered what he 
would think about this world of ours to-day, the same as his of long ago 
and yet not the same. What would he miss that he might have expected 
to find ? What would he find that he could never have expected ? As 
he had been a human being when he was in the flesh, it is a safe guess 
that he would be interested first of all in himself, in the fate of his 
reputation, in the opinion in which he is now held by us who know him 
only through his writings. And it is sad to think that many a genius 
would be grievously disappointed at the shrinkage of his fame. If he 
had hoped to see his books still alive, passing from hand to hand, familiar 
on the lips as household words, he might be shocked to discover that 
they survived solely in the silent obscurity of a complete edition, elabor 
ately annotated and preserved on an upper shelf for external use only. 
On the other hand, there would be a genius now and then who had died 
without any real recognition of his immortal gifts and who, on his 
imagined return to earth, would be delighted to discover that he now 
bulked bigger than he had ever dared to dream. 

It is with this second and scanty group that Shakspere would 
belong. So far as we can judge from the sparse records of his life and 
from his own writings, he was modest and unassuming, never vaunting 
himself, never boasting and probably never puffed up by the belief that 
he had any cause to boast. What he had done was all in the day's work, 
a satisfaction to him as a craftsman when he saw that he had turned out 
a good job, but a keener satisfaction to him as a man of affairs that he 
was thereby getting on and laying by against the day when he might 
retire to Stratford to live the life of an English gentleman. Probably 



no other genius could now revisit the earth who would be more com 
pletely or more honestly astonished by the effulgence of his fame. To 
suppose that this would not be exquisitely gratifying to him would be 
to suggest that he was not human. Yet a chief component of his broad 
humanity was his sense of humour ; as a man he did not take himself 
too seriously, and as a ghost he would certainly smile at the ultra-serious 
ness of his eulogists and interpreters. A natural curiosity might lead 
him to look over a volume or two in the huge library of Shaksperian 
criticism ; but these things would not detain him long. Being modest 
and unassuming still, he would soon weary of protracted praise. 

It may be that Shakspere would linger long enough over his critics 
and his commentators to note that they have belauded him abundantly 
and superabundantly as a poet, as a philosopher, as a psychologist, and 
as a playwright. He might even be puzzled by this fourfold classifica 
tion of his gifts, failing for the moment to perceive its precision. When 
he read praise of his poetry, he would naturally expect to see it supported 
by quotation from his two narrative poems or from his one sonnet- 
sequence. Quite possibly he might be somewhat annoyed to observe 
that these juvenile verses, cordially received on their original publication, 
were now casually beplastered with perfunctory epithets, while the 
sincerest and most searching commendation was bestowed on the style 
and on the spirit of the plays, in their own day unconsidered by literary 
critics and not recognized as having any claim to be considered as 
literature. Yet this commendation, pleasing even if unforeseen, would 
not go to his head, since Shakspere if we may venture to deduce his 
own views from the scattered evidence in his plays had no very high 
opinion of poets or of poetry. 

If he might be agreeably surprised by the praise lavished on him 
as a poet, he would be frankly bewildered by the commendation bestowed 
on him as a philosopher. He knew that he was not a man of solid 
learning, and that his reading, even if wide enough for his immediate 
purpose, had never been deep. He might admit that he had a certain 
insight into the affairs of men and a certain understanding of the intricate 
inter-relations of human motives. But he could never have considered 
himself as an original thinker, advancing the boundaries of knowledge 
or pushing speculation closer to the confines of the unknowable. All 
he had sought to do in the way of philosophy was now and again to 
phrase afresh as best he could one or another of the eternal common 
places, which need to be minted anew for the use of every oncoming 
generation. If a natural curiosity should tempt Shakspere to turn 

A a 


over a few pages of his critics to discover exactly what there was in his 
writings to give him rank among the philosophers, he would probably 
be more puzzled than before, until his sense of humour effected a 
speedy rescue. 

Bewildered as Shakspere might be to see himself dissected as a 
philosopher, he would be startled to discover himself described also 
as a psychologist. To him the word itself would be unknown and 
devoid of meaning, strange in sound and abhorrent in appearance. 
Even after it had been translated to him with explanation that he 
deserved discussion as a psychologist because he had created a host of 
accusable characters and had carried them through the climax of their 
careers with subtle self- revelation, he might still wonder at this undue 
regard for the persons in his plays, whom he had considered not as much 
vital characters as effective acting-parts devised by him to suit the several 
capacities of his fellow actors, Burbage and Arnim, Heming and Condall. 
It might be that these creatures of his invention were more than parts 
fitted to these actors ; but none the less had they taken shape in his 
brain first of all as parts intended specifically for performance by specific 
tragedians and comedians. 

Only when Shakspere read commendation of his skill as a play 
wright, pure and simple, as a maker of plays to be performed by actors 
in a theatre and before an audience, so put together as to reward the 
efforts of the performers and to arouse and sustain the interest of the 
spectators only then would he fail to be surprised at his posthumous 
reputation. He could not be unaware that his plays, comic and tragic, 
or at least that the best of them, written in the middle of his career as 
a dramatist, were more adroitly put together than the pieces of any of 
his predecessors and contemporaries. He could not forget the pains 
he had taken to knit together the successive situations into a compelling 
plot, to provide his story with an articulated backbone of controlling 
motive, to stiffen the action with moments of tense suspense, to urge it 
forward to its inevitable and irresistible climax, to achieve effects of 
contrast, and to relieve the tragic strain with intermittent humour. And 
even if it might mean little or nothing to him that he was exalted to 
a place beside and above Sophocles, the master of ancient tragedy, and 
Moliere, the master of modern comedy, he might well be gratified to 
be recognized at last as a most accomplished craftsman, ever dexterous 
in solving the problems of dramaturgic technique. 

These fanciful suggestions are based on the belief that Shakspere 
like every other of the supreme artists of the world * builded better 


than he knew ' ; and that this is a main reason why his work abides 
unendingly interesting to us three centuries after his death. He seems 
to have written, partly for self-expression, of course, but chiefly for the 
delight of his contemporaries, with no thought for our opinion fifteen 
score years later ; and yet he wrought so firmly, so largely and so loftily 
that we may rightly read into his works a host of meanings he did not 
consciously intend and for which he can take the credit, none the less, 
because only he could have put them there. 



A a 2 



WITHIN the city square the fountain's play 

Draws from their dusty games the girls and boys ; 
They love its coolness, and the pleasant noise 

Of falling water, love the misty spray 

Thrown in bright showers by the radiant fay, 
Bedecked in rainbow films, a shimmering poise, 
Who seems just lighted from a world of joys 

Beyond the confines of our common day. 

So from the dust and heat, and day-long strain 
Of toil and traffic at the desk or mart, 
Men seek escape, through thy pellucid art, 

Into a world of kingly joys and pain, 

Where, in the racial passions of the heart, 

They find the zest for common tasks again. 



IN this charmed wood where youth, beneath the shade 
Of ancient boughs, for love's fruition yearned, 
Where merry note to bird's sweet throat was turned 

And huntsman's horn resounded through the glade, 

Where, from the summer sun and wintry wind, 

From trees and brooks and stones, men learned content, 
And brother's heart, on brother's death intent, 

By brother's deed was turned to love of kind ; 

In this dear wood, now fallen on evil days, 

Sounds but the shriek of shell, and cry infuriate 
Of battle-maddened men, whom murderous Fate 

Leads plunging, writhing, dying in her maze. 
The ravished trees lie prone in mute despair ; 
The very birds have ceased to haunt the air. 





WHENEVER one compares a character or incident in Shakespeare 
with the original sources, one almost invariably observes that the poet, 
in fusing his * live soul and that inert stuff ', has consciously or uncon 
sciously betrayed some touch of fine feeling, some human tenderness, 
which transfers the whole situation to a higher plane. This is clearly 
the case when we place the duke's champion of As You Like It alongside 
the uncouth Norman of Thomas Lodge's romance. Shakespeare has 
been, in America as everywhere else, a tremendously civilizing force. 
I cannot remember a single instance of false sentiment in his works ; 
and even his minor characters reveal the innate nobility, purity, and 
gentleness of the world's supreme dramatist. 

Now Charles has never received his due either from textual 
critics or from the audiences which for three centuries have applauded 
his defeat. Naturally Orlando misunderstood him, and threw him 
with moral as well as physical zest. On the stage Charles is represented 
as a loud-mouthed braggart and bully ; the ridiculous ease with which 
he is * knocked out ' makes even the skilful laugh. 

Shakespeare, in altering many details in Lodge's Rosalynde, really 
made Charles not only human, but decidedly attractive. Charles is 
a professional athlete ; like most men of his class, he is a good fellow, 
and is so presented in the play, if we read it attentively, without pre 
conceived opinions. Shakespeare has given us information withheld 
from Orlando, Rosalind, and Celia. Charles is liberal and kindly in 
disposition, and means to fight fairly for his reputation. He answers in 
the most delightful fashion the queries of Oliver concerning the banished 
Duke, the forest of Arden, and the Lady Rosalind ; but this is not the 
object of his visit. Departing entirely from the original, Shakespeare 
makes Charles wait on Oliver for the express purpose of saying that he 
has heard that young Orlando is to wrestle against him, disguised ; and 
as it does not occur to his honest, affectionate nature that the boy can 
be hated by his own brother, he asks if something cannot be done to 


prevent Orlando's injury and humiliation. Charles speaks in a manner 
both modest and masculine ; his motive in seeking the interview is 
wholly admirable. It is only after Oliver has told him a series of lies 
about Orlando, that Charles's attitude to the latter changes, and accord 
ingly he speaks roughly to him just before the combat. The profes 
sional quite rightly regards himself not as a competitor with an amateur 
gentleman in an athletic contest, but rather as a policeman whose duty 
it is to destroy a dangerous criminal. I sincerely hope that Charles 
was only slightly injured, and that he subsequently learned the facts 
of the case. At all events, I maintain that he is a * good ' character. 




* SHAKESPEARE . . . seems to me ', says Walt Whitman, * of astral 
genius, first class, entirely fit for feudalism. His contributions, especially 
to the literature of the passions, are immense, for ever dear to humanity 
and his name is always to be reverenced in America. But there is 
much in him ever offensive to democracy. He is not only the tally of 
feudalism, but I should say Shakespeare is incarnated, uncompromising 
feudalism in literature.' 

With such an arraignment of Shakespeare's universality and his 
sympathy with his fellow men, let us consider the common folk of his 
plays with a view to discover the poet's actual attitude toward that 
humbler station in life into which he was himself indisputably born. 
For our purpose we exclude all personages of rank, all his characters 
of gentle birth, together with all those, whatever their varying degrees 
of servitude, who wait upon royalty or form, in any wise, a part or 
parcel of the households of great folk. This excludes all of Shakespeare's 
heroes, unless we are to accept the pseudo-Shakespearian Alice Arden, 
or thrust lago and Shylock out of the heroic category. It will also 
exclude Shakespeare's fools, from trifling Launce and the delectable 
Feste to the sad-eyed companion in folly of King Lear. And even 
Falstaff, who was sometime page to Sir Thomas Mowbray, and a gentle 
man however unlanded, must stand in his dignity without our bounds. 

There remain for us, in our middle domain, some threescore 
personages who have speaking parts, of a diversity the equal of their 
betters and inferiors, even although their actual roles are, for the most 
part, subordinate. Conveniently to treat so many of the undistin 
guished, we must group them, a process the more justifiable when we 
consider that thus we can best ascertain what are really Shakespeare's 
prejudices and whether they are of class or individual. 

The drama by Shakespeare's day had already evolved, or rather 
created by iteration, several very definite stock personages. One of 
these is the pedant or schoolmaster, so well known to Italian comedy ; 


and Holof ernes, in Love's Labour 9 s Lost, with his loquacity, affectation 
of learning and essential ignorance, is Shakespeare's most certain con 
tribution to the type. As to * the pedant ' so nominated in The Taming 
oj the Shrew, this personage is taken over bodily from Gascoigne's 
Supposes, the translation of an Italian play, and performs no ' pedantic ' 
function ; while Pinch, in The Comedy of Errors, is called in momen 
tarily to exorcise the devil out of half-maddened Antipholus of Ephesus. 
In the Welshman, Sir Hugh Evans of The Merry Wives of Windsor, we 
modulate, so to speak, from the schoolmaster to the parson, for Evans 
apparently performed the functions of both. Evans is no fool, however 
he may have sung on one memorable occasion, in breaking voice, un- 
gowned and sword in trembling hand, while he awaited the coming of 
his terrible adversary, the French Doctor Caius, deceived in the meeting, 
like himself, by a parcel of incorrigible wags. 

Shakespeare's curates, parsons, and religious folk are many. Of 
the class of Evans are Sir Nathaniel in Love's Labour 's Lost and Sir 
Oliver Martext in As You Like It. Sir Nathaniel is zany to the pon 
derous folly of Holof ernes, he who plays the role of * Alisander J to the 
latter's Judas in the immortal * ostentation, or show, or pageant, or 
antique of the Nine Worthies ' ; while our joy in Sir Oliver lies more 
in his delectable cognomen * Martext ' than in the very brief scenes in 
which he is brought in to * dispatch ' Touchstone and his Audrey into 
matrimony under the greenwood tree. The Shakespearian Friar is 
a more important personage, from the plotting, necromantic Home and 
Southwell in the second part of Henry VI to Juliet's Friar Lawrence 
with his minor counterpart of minor function, Friar Francis in Much 
Ado About Nothing, and the Duke, disguised as such, in Measure for 
Measure. Whether a matter wholly referable to his sources or not, 
Shakespeare conceived the friar of Roman Catholic Verona, Messina, 
or Vienna, in a very different spirit from that in which he represents 
the small parson, Sir Hugh or Sir Oliver. Friar Francis in Much Ado 
About Nothing detects the ' strange misprision in the two princes ' 
whereby the Lady Hero is slanderously wronged, and it is his prudent 
advice, which, followed implicitly by the lady and her friends, rights 
that wrong in the end. The likeness of this function of Friar Lawrence 
is patent to the most superficial reader ; but unhappily for his prudence 
and his ingenuity, the accident to his messenger, the precipitancy of 
Romeo, the influence of the very stars is against him, and he fails where 
his brother friar succeeded. Nowhere in Shakespeare does the clergy 
function with more dignity than in Measure for Measure, whether in the 


role of the chaste and devoted novitiate, Isabella, or in the grave and 
searching wisdom of the duke. What Shakespeare's attitude toward 
formal religion may have been we have little that is definite to go by. 
Who can doubt that it was he, however, and none other, who paid for 
the tolling of the great bell of St. Saviour's when his brother's body 
was laid there to rest ? And who can question, with all his scenes of 
religious pomp and dignity, that Shakespeare recognized, with Wolsey, 
that all these forms of earthly vanity are 

a burden 
Too heavy for a man that hopes for heaven ? 

We may regret that Shakespeare has nowhere exhibited to us, like 
Chaucer in his ' poure Persoun of a toun ', his ideal of the cloth. It 
has been wittily said that it is a credit to human nature that no critic 
has, as yet, called Shakespeare a Puritan. It is somewhat less creditable 
that some have gone about to show him the satirist of Puritanism, 
especially in Malvolio. It was Jonson, the moralist, who satirized 
Puritanism, not Shakespeare, whose business was with qualities that 
differentiate men in the essentials of their natures and in the conduct 
which these differences entail. 

Let us glance next at the physicians of Shakespeare. In Dr. Caius, 
of The Merry Wives of Windsor, albeit he is boastful of his intelligence 
from the court, the doctor is lost in the gross wit of the Frenchman's 
ignorance of English satirized. The apothecary who sells Romeo his 
death potion, in his * tattered weeds ', could assuredly not have been 
of a profession in which there are no beggars. The father of Helena 
in All 's Well that Ends Well t although he left to his daughter the miracu 
lous cure of the King of France by means of his medical secrets, is 
reported a man of dignity, learning, and much experience in his practice. 
The doctor in Macbeth has won the praises of his own jealous profession 
with the professional aptitude of his comments on the somnambulist 
symptoms of Lady Macbeth ; while the physician, Cornelius, skilled 
as he is in poisons, honourably deceives the wicked queen of Cymbeline 
with a sleeping potion instead of the deadly drug which it was her 
purpose to administer to the unhappy Imogen. 

Unlike his contemporary Middleton and some others, Shakespeare 
does not satirize the profession of the law ; and the lawyer, as such, 
scarcely figures in the plays. At opposite poles, in the plays which 
have to do with FalstarT, we have Master Shallow * in the county of 
Gloucester, justice of the peace and " coram ' ', described by Falstaff 


as * a man made after supper of a cheese-paring ... for all the world 
like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a 
knife '. And we have likewise the grave and honourable Chief Justice 
Gascoigne, whose courage and impartiality in the exercise of his high 
functions caused the regenerate Prince to choose him for his guide and 
counsellor on the assumption of his new royal dignities. As to the 
lesser functionaries of the law, the watchman, the constable, and the 
beadle, Shakespeare exhibits the general free spirit of his time, and 
laughs, as the rest of the world has ever laughed, at the insolence, in 
eptitude, and ignorance of the small man dressed in a little brief authority. 
It might be argued with some likelihood of success that this is identi 
cally the spirit that marks the Sheriff of Nottingham as the butt of the 
lawless pranks of Robin Hood, the attitude towards constituted authority 
which combined, in the free ranging devils of the old miracle plays, the 
functions of policing the crowd and catering to its merriment. Beyond 
his designation, ' a constable ', Dull, in Love's Labour 's Lost, scarcely 
represents for his class more than his name ; and as to Elbow, in Measure 
for Measure, his ' simplicity ', like his malapropisms, seems a faint and 
colourless repetition of these qualities in the immortal Dogberry. Dog 
berry is universal, the ubiquitous, inevitable, unescapable man of weight, 
ponderous alike physically and mentally ; for I am persuaded with an 
old-fashioned American critic, that Dogberry was * of ample sizeno 
small man speaks with sedate gravity . . . No man of the lean and 
dwarfish species can assume the tranquil self-consequence of Dogberry. 
How could a thinly covered soul [exhibit] . . . that calm interior glow, 
that warm sense, too, of outward security, which so firmly speaks in 
Dogberry's content and confidence ? ' 

Our obvious generalization as to Shakespeare 's estimate of the 
learned professions, then, is this : he found in all, earnest, honourable, 
and capable men, and honoured them as such ; and he found likewise 
among them the stupid, the pedantic, the pretentious, and the absurd. 
It was for their follies that he ridiculed them, not because of their class 
or their station in life. 

Of the small gentry of Elizabethan England, Master Ford and 
Master Page, with their two merry wives, offer us the best example in 
comedy. The discordant plans and plots for a provision in life for 
Mistress Anne Page are in keeping with many a like unconscious parody 
on the grand alliances of folk of higher station. The foolish Slender, 
who is likewise a small landed proprietor, is nearer an absolute * natural ' 
than any of Shakespeare's clowns, professional or other, for wit proceeds 


no more out of him, however he beget wit in others, than it ever comes 
forth from the mouth of Andrew Aguecheek his cousin-german (so to 
speak) of Illyria. In Alexander Iden, who, meeting with Jack Cade in 
his Kentish garden, kills him in a single fight, we have a serious personage 
much of Slender 's station in life. But Iden has his wits as well as his 
valour about him, and his knighting is his deserved reward. Nearer 
the soil, if closer to royalty, is the kind-hearted, allegorical-minded 
king's gardener who apprises the queen of Richard II of that monarch's 
mischance in falling into the hands of his enemy, victorious Bolingbroke. 
In the country folk that fill in the background of As You Like It and the 
later acts of The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare's English spirit comes into 
contact with the conventional types of Italian pastoral drama. Phebe 
is the typical shepherdess, beloved but not loving, and Sylvius, the 
pursuing shepherd unbeloved. But as if to correct an impression so 
artificial, we have, beside them, William and Audrey, English country 
folk in name and nature like Costard and Jaquenetta, and in Shake 
speare's maturer art, far more redolent of the soil. William, like Slender, 
and many a man of better station, is a mere natural ; but his witlessness 
is as distinguishable from the folly of the Shakespearian * clown ', as 
his boorishness differs from the literal simplicity of the Shepherd who 
becomes foster-brother to Perdita in The Winter's Tale. Mopsa and 
Dorcas, with their shepherds of the sheep-shearing, in these charming 
comedy scenes, are English country folk ; and Autolycus, despite his 
fine Greek name, is a delightful English rogue and incorrigible vagabond. 
And now that we have all but touched the bottom of the Shake 
spearian social scale, we may note that in Shakespeare, poverty does 
not necessarily make a man vicious, nor does roguery destroy humour 
in a man or deprive him of his brains. The porter in Macbeth is a 
foul-mouthed drunken lout ; the nameless * old man ' in the same 
tragedy is a credulous recorder of marvels. But Adam, the old serving- 
man of Orlando, is faithful almost to death. Dame Quickly of London 
is a silly old muddle-head, alike innocent of morals and of common- 
sense ; and her sister Dame Quickly of Windsor is a shameless go- 
between and meddler ; but the widow, keeper of lodgings for pilgrims 
in All 's Well that Ends Well, has a virtuous and honourable disposition. 
The drawer, Francis, in Henry IV, ' sums up his eloquence in the 
parcel of a reckoning ' ; but there is no keener, droller fellow in the 
world than the grave-digger in Hamlet, and it is dubious if for natural 
parts, however diverted to the * doing ' and undoing of his fellows, 
Autolycus has ever had his equal. Shakespeare's carriers talk of their 


jades and their packs ; his vintners and drawers of their guests and 
their drinking ; his musicians disparage their own skill and have to be 
coaxed to show it ; and his honest botchers, weavers, and bricklayers 
hate learning, and in their rage variously kill a poet and hang a clerk. 
And curious as all this may appear to him who habitually views the 
classes below him as merely his servants or the objects of his organized 
charity, all this save possibly the homicides is as true of to-day as 
of the age of Shakespeare. 

And here perhaps as well as anywhere, we may digress into * the 
Shakespearian prejudice as to mobs '. The mob figures as such con 
spicuously three times in Shakespeare's plays in the second part of 
King Henry VI ', in Julius Caesar, and in Coriolanus. It is represented 
in all three cases as fickle, turbulent, cruel, foul, and possessed of a rude 
sense of humour ; and this last is Shakespeare's perhaps, more 
accurately, the Elizabethan contribution to the picture. It has been 
well observed that Tudor England presented no precise parallel to the 
persistent struggle of the Roman plebs against the bulwarks of patrician 
oligarchy. And it is doubtful if Shakespeare would have sought for 
such parallels had they existed. In unessentials and the picture of the 
mob is such to the dramatic action of these two Roman plays Shake 
speare is always faithful to his sources, and Plutarch's crowd is cruel, 
seditious, and ' contemptibly responsive ' to the most obvious blandish 
ments of the demagogue. In the admirable scenes of Jack Cade's 
rebellion, although the material was nearer home, Shakespeare once 
more followed his sources, here in Holinshed and Halle. Neither of 
these worthies comprehended in the slightest degree the actual political 
issues underlying the Kentishmen's revolt, which historically was as 
respectable as it was fruitless. But Shakespeare was not seeking histori 
cal accuracy, but dramatic effectiveness and fidelity to the observed 
characteristics of ignorant men escaped from the curb of the law. 
Shakespeare, as to the mob, was no sociologist, and his yearning for 
the submerged truth was not that of many a worthy gentleman of our 
own time who otherwise misrepresents the unshriven objects of his 
solicitude. In short, a mob was to the unlettered dramatist merely 
a mob. Man running in packs unbridled by authority was a pheno 
menon better known to unpoliced Elizabethan England than to us, and 
Shakespeare found most of his own impressions in this matter to tally 
remarkably with those of Plutarch and Holinshed. 

With Shakespeare's mob we leave the country and meet with 
the small tradesmen of towns ; for even the Kentish ' rabblement ' of 


Jack Cade is represented, like that of ancient Rome, as made up of small 
tradespeople cobblers, butchers, smiths, and the like not folk of the 
fields. Individually as collectively, Shakespeare has a greater apprecia 
tion for the humours of the tailor, the joiner, and the bellows-mender 
than for his psychology. The drunken tinker of The Taming of the 
Shrew, the author found in his source and, unlike that source, wearied, 
he dropped his adventures when the play within the play was at an end. 
The hempen homespuns, with the illustrious weaver, Bottom, at their 
head, repeat, in their absurd drama of Pyramus and Thisbe, a situation 
already sketched in Love's Labour '$ Lost, one in which the banter and 
cruel interruption of ungentle gentles evidently reproduces a situa 
tion by no means unknown to better actors than Bottom, Flute, and 
Starveling. A kindly spirit speaks in the words of Theseus : 

For never anything can be amiss 
When simpleness and duty tender it; 

for truly is he tolerant who can find words of praise for the good inten 
tions of the amateur actor, a being little loved of gods or men. To the 
professional player, whom he knew better than any other man of art, 
Shakespeare is courteous and appreciative in the person of Hamlet, 
and we know from an often quoted sonnet, how deeply he could feel 
the degradation which popular contemporary opinion attached to the 
player's art. 

The merchant, in Shakespeare's day, was a far more dignified 
person than the mere man of trade. A merchant, it is true, waits with 
a jeweller, but also with a painter and a poet, in the anteroom of the 
sumptuous spendthrift Timon. But ordinarily, the merchant is a more 
dignified person, extending courtesy to strangers, as in The Comedy oj 
Errors, taking risks for his merchandise and for himself, as in the case 
of old Aegeon, in the same play, who has ventured on markets forbidden 
and is imprisoned for his daring. The most notable Shakespearian 
merchant is, of course, Antonio, the merchant prince of Venice, an 
adventurer in the Elizabethan sense into strange markets and a gambler 
for high commercial stakes. His gravity or presaging melancholy 
befits his dignity, and his generosity to Bassanio, a fellow adventurer 
(but in more than the Elizabethan sense), is only equalled by his autho 
rity among his fellow merchants and his scorn of the unrighteous Jew. 
Shy lock, too, is of the merchant class, but a pariah alike for his race 
and his practice of usury. But Shy lock will take us into precincts irre 
levant ; for the Jew, whatever your thought of him or mine, is not of 
the common folk even of Shakespeare. 


Next to the merchants come Shakespeare's seamen, the noble- 
minded Antonio of Twelfth Night, Sebastian's friend, the outspoken 
sea-captain, boatswain, and mariners of The Tempest, the attendant 
sailors and fisher-folk of Pericles. Shakespeare was a landsman ; save 
for an occasional line, his descriptions of the sea, in the richest of all 
literatures in this respect, are none of them important. The mariner 
as such he treats with the respect of a person only partially known. 
With the soldier, in a martial age, Shakespeare was better acquainted, 
and he knew him from the kings and great commanders of the historical 
plays to such pasteboard and plaster military men as Parolles, Nym, 
and Pistol. Of FalstafFs levy and his rabble attendants, from Bardolph 
of the carbuncled nose to the minute page, it may be said that they cut 
a sorrier figure in France than at the Boar's Head in Eastcheap. But 
Shakespeare's army levied better men than these ; the heroic gunners 
on the walls of Orleans, the brave and capable captains of four kingdoms, 
Gower, Fluellen, Macmorris, and Jamy in Henry V, and the manly 
English soldiers Bates, Court, and Williams. If the refined, modern 
critic, versed in the psychological researches of an incessantly prying 
world, would learn whether the old dramatist, Shakespeare, had any 
notions as to the mental processes and moral stability of the common 
man, let him read and ponder the simple incident of King Henry V, 
incognito, and the soldier Williams, and their arguments pro and con 
as to the responsibility of princes. Williams is the type of the honest, 
fearless, clear-headed ' man in the street ' who honours his king, not 
slavishly because he is a king, but for the qualities that make him kingly ; 
who respects manhood (his own included) above rank, and is the more 
valiant that he knows the cost of valour. There are several well-known 
tales of military devotion they are not English of the soldier, wounded 
unto death in a quarrel, the righteousness or wrong of which he cares 
not even to inquire, who dies in infatuated content that he has obeyed, 
in unquestioning faith, the august commands of his master. Williams 
is not of this type. His free soul will challenge his gage in the eye of his 
prince and when his heart tells him he is right, let the devil forbid. 
Shakespeare, too, knew the common man, who is bleeding to-day for 
England ; and his trust, like ours, was in him. Nor did our wise old 
dramatist, for all his scenes of the pomp and circumstance of war, forget 
its terror, its sorrow, and its pathos. In the third part of Henry VI, that 
unhappy king is seated alone on the field of battle, as the struggle surges 
away from him. And there enters * a son that hath killed his father, 
dragging in the dead body ', and later * a father bearing his dead son '. 


Poignant are the words of these common men in their common woe, 
the battle woe of all ages and all times, in the grip of which the least 
are as the great and the greatest as the poorest. 

In the taverns, the brothels and the jails, Shakespeare found the 
foul-mouthed, the ignorant, and the dishonest, and he represented them 
in all these particulars in a faithful, if at times forbidding, reality of 
life. Moreover, his prejudice against evil is pronounced in the very 
repulsiveness of such scenes. He knows that there are impostors among 
beggars, that trial by combat is only a somewhat cruder method of 
getting at the truth than trial by jury, that there are corrupt and in 
competent magistrates and fools abounding in all walks of life. More 
over, he depicts in his plays a feudal state of society, for such was English 
society in his day. But there is nothing in these honest dramatic pictures 
of English life, from the king on his throne to Abhorson with his heads 
man's axe, to declare Shakespeare prejudiced against any class of his 
fellow countrymen. Wherefore, our obvious generalization as to 
Shakespeare's attitude toward common folk, whether they be learned 
or unlearned, is this : he found among them the stupid, the ignorant, 
the pretentious, and the absurd ; but he found likewise in each class 
the earnest, the honourable, and capable, and honoured each after his 
kind as such. For their follies he ridiculed them ; for their virtues, 
which he recognized, he loved them, deflecting neither to ridicule nor 
respect because of station in life. 




FOUR years will presently be gone since the hand that could have 
shaped a fit message, worthy of this occasion, wrote its last word. 
Horace Howard Furness died suddenly and quietly one August evening 
in 1912, his labours upon Cymbeline being then so nearly completed 
that the volume as he left it was published by his son, Horace the younger. 
The Editor of the New Variorum was my kinsman and my very dear 
friend. His opinions and surmises about Cymbeline he told me week 
by week, while the work was going on. His interest was so keen and 
vivacious that, when the telegram came to tell us that of him also it was 
now to be said, * home art gone and ta'en thy wages/ it seemed incre 
dible, and for a long while so remained. It is the memory of those final 
talks, the knowledge that it would please him, that now spur me to meet 
a task far beyond my unscholarly powers, even had months, instead of 
days, been allotted for the performing of it. Yet even without such 
a spur, what lover of Shakespeare and of England could think for a 
moment of turning aside from the task in this year of the poet's fame, 
and this hour of his Island's life ? * that water-walled bulwark, still 
secure and confident from foreign purposes '. 

I shall not be so presumptuous as to attempt any tribute to him 
who has surpassed the magic of his own created sprite in putting a girdle 
about the earth. When time and the whole of civilized mankind have 
set him where he is, what is left to say ? What wreath to-day can add 
a flower to his name, or serve to do more than unite us in coming grate 
fully into the presence of the mighty memory ? 

' Others abide our question. Thou art free.' Some men (and some 
of them wise) are not of Matthew Arnold's mind. They would have 
a Shakespeare visible throughout his days, caught in the trap of research, 
his person disclosed from an age even earlier than his poaching escapades 
and precocious love-making, until even after he had left his second-best 
bedstead to his wife. They would like to know how much and how 
little she was a helpmeet to him; what breakfast she gave him, and 

B b 


if she cooked it to his taste ; and if it was a domestic quarrel that sent 
him away from her side to London. They would follow him, and pry, 
and touch, and know all the littlenesses we know about in ourselves, 
that I thank Heaven we do not know about in him. I am even glad 
that over his work-desk there hangs an impenetrable veil. Around him 
is thus drawn a circle that I trust none will ever find the secret of entering. 
The public records of London, that nobody ever searched so perse- 
veringly for clues until Professor Wallace had this ingenious thought, 
have furnished him with some information ; and that it was an American 
who may have fixed the true site of the Globe Theatre is a feat for 
Americans to be proud of. But that the poet boarded with a maker 
of fashionable headdresses, named Mountjoy, and intervened amiably 
there in a family matter, does not interest me. May the public records, 
and every quarry that he digs in, yield Professor Wallace a store of 
anecdotes about Webster of whom we know so little, and poor Massin- 
ger, and Ford's successful marriage and melancholy hat about any 
other of that great company you please, and not a jot more about 
Shakespeare ! 

We know about him all we need ; there he stands, a mystery, yet 
definite ; more indestructible than any other human creator ; something 
almost like a natural law. The sentences that he wrote seem rather to 
make our mother-tongue than to be made of it. A notion of how 
definite he is, yet how immeasurable, cannot be obtained without 
knowing the Greeks, and his fellow Elizabethans, and Goethe, Dante, 
and Moliere. It is by standing him against a background of all these 
others that we see him most distinctly. Those things wherein some 
of them surpass him serve to show his greater vastness : for neither 
the Greek symmetry nor the intellectual depths of Faust are large enough 
to hold Lear, Ariel, Caliban, and FalstafF all contained in the one man, 
with room for so much more. Dante, too, grasps certain portions of 
life harder, but the rest he scarcely touches. Moliere remains. If his 
Misanthrope and Tartufie go beyond anything of the sort in the comedies, 
he wrote no Hamlet. 


The Shakespeare readings of Fanny Kemble, my grandmother, 
which began in Philadelphia in 1849, probably led to the forming of our 
Shakspere Society the oldest Shakespeare Society in the world two 
years later. She had quickened interest in the plays, and some gentlemen 



accordingly organized themselves into a body dedicated to a thorough 
and critical study of the poet. They met every two weeks during certain 
months. Some of them were lawyers and judges, and it was a company 
of trained intelligences. In a few years, after a season spent upon The 
Tempesty they printed privately the notes resulting from its study. 
Here was a plain sign that they were not satisfied with the comments 
and explanations of previous Shakespearians with all of which their 
excellent library provided them. In 1866-7 their study of Romeo and 
Juliet added to their dissatisfaction. Horace Howard Furness had been 
a member of the Society since 1860, when he was twenty-seven years 
old, and when he had learned that his deafness was to prevent the possi 
bility of his ever practising his profession, the Law. Early in 1871 
appeared his Romeo and Juliet, ' affectionately inscribed ' to the Shakspere 
Society of Philadelphia. The shape and size of the volume, its print, 
everything connected with its appearance and convenience, had been 
the subject of thought and discussion among the members. They, at 
a meeting held February 7, 1871, formally resolved that ' In the opinion 
of the Society no single volume yet published in America is at all equal 
to this in value as a contribution to Shakespeare literature*. I am writing 
this on the gth day of March, 1916. Every other Wednesday the 
Shakspere Society still meets. It met last night, and, after dining (for 
it always dines first), gave its attention to the fourth Act of Antony and 
Cleopatra, Scene xiv, line 114, to the end of the Act. Our Dean is now 
Horace Furness the younger, and he is at work upon King John, the 
next volume of the New Variorum. 


It seems as if here I should stop ; but I cannot quite stop here. 
To my heart England and her poet are alike familiar, and very dear ; 
and certain lines of the poet's verse have been ringing within me since 
the first day of August 1914. On that Saturday I left St. Pancras, and, 
a few hours later, sailed down the Thames, bound homeward. Night 
had come as the ship turned west out of the river's mouth into the broad 
seas. As we moved past Deal and Dover and beyond, we were swept 
continually by lights that watched from water and land. It was then 
that suddenly the verses rang, which never since have been quite silent. 
I could not catch every tone at first. They sounded from that place 
in memory which all of us know, where things live of themselves in 

fib 2 



depths beyond our complete grasp ; yet still we feel them to be there, 
and we grope and touch them for an instant, and by and by recover 
them wholly. I found the page where the lines are set down. They 
must have come to many American minds that love England and her 
poet and his * time-honored Lancaster '. Nothing that history records 
can banish England from us, or us, I hope, from England, whose cause 
is ours ; and so I, passing by the cliffs and lights on that August first, 
could think only of 

This happy breed of men, this little world, 

This precious stone set in the silver sea, . . . 

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, . . . 

This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land. 





DARKLING and groping, thin of blood, we wage 
Mechanic war : one vast crepuscular day 
Broods o'er the world ; our very grief is grey ; 
We wear no weeds ; we loathe to tread the stage. 
Birds of all feathers in that motley cage 
Once chirp 'd and sang their vernal longings gay; 
More life than is in life was in the play ; 
More sweetness than in wisdom in the sage. 

When will return to earth that jocund year 
With marigolds and daisies golden-eye J d, 
Passionate lovers, and kings crown'd in pride ? 
When will that teeming summer reappear 
And hide together in one flowery bier 
The old that erred and the young that died ? 




PofcrE, noble fils de la grande Angleterre, 
Fier et charmant genie, au long rayonnement, 
Dont Toeuvre de beaute* vit e*ternellement, 
Comme le soleil luit pour rejouir la terre ; 

Pour mieux comme*morer ton nouveau centenaire 
Que ton peuple et le mien fetent en ce moment, 
Regarde : tous les deux s'entr'aident fierement 
Dans Teffort fraternel de cette rude guerre. 

Le coeur aupres du coeur et la main dans la main, 
Ils veulent, tous les deux, sauver le genre humain 
De la rapacite* des aigles abattues ; 

Quand nos drapeaux unis seront victorieux, 
Alors nous reviendrons, sous de plus libres cieux, 
Pendre une palme neuve au pied de tes statues. 




L'CEUVRE de Shakespeare releve-t-elle de Tart ou de la nature ? 
Est-elle humaine ou divine ? 

On reconnait le travail de la nature a ce qu'il donne des oeuvres 
dont 1'analyse ne sera jamais terminee. Chacune dalles est un infini. 
Le produit le plus ingenieux de 1'industrie humaine, le mecanisme 
d'horlogerie le plus complique, ne comporte qu'un nombre limite de 
pieces ; on peut les retirer une a une et demonter 1'appareil complete- 
ment ; on sait alors de quoi il est fait et comment il est fait. Mais on 
ne saura jamais tout ce qui entre dans la composition d'une fleur ou 
d'une feuille. Des microscopes de plus en plus puissants y decouvriront 
un nombre croissant de choses, et la science poursuivra indefiniment sur 
elles son travail d 'analyse sans arriver au bout. 

On en dirait autant d'une piece de Shakespeare. Les critiques les 
plus penetrants se sont, 1'un apres 1'autre, exerces sur elle ; a chaque 
nouvel effort de chacun d'eux un nouvel aspect de 1'ceuvre s'est revele ; 
mais, quand meme nous en connaitrions bien davantage, indefini serait 
le nombre des aspects qui nous echapperaient encore. Les plus grands 
acteurs ont, Tun apres 1'autre, joue le role ; chacun d'eux en a tire un 
personnage particulier, qui y etait effectivement ; et, tant qu'il y aura 
des acteurs dans le monde, on en extraira des personnages toujours 
nouveaux : jamais on n'en aura epuise le contenu. II semble done que 
Shakespeare ait travaille comme la nature. II a enferme un infini dans 
chacun des produits de son genie. 

De bas en haut de la nature s'exerce une poussee de vie, qui est 
d'origine divine. L 'evolution du monde organise s'explique par elle. 
D 'espece en espece, malgre des hesitations, des deviations et des reculs, 
cette evolution tendait a dessiner la forme humaine ou quelque chose 
qui en approchat. La creation de 1'humanite, c'est-a-dire d'une espece 
dont chaque individu est une personne, fut le point d'aboutissement de 
la poussee vitale, le grand triomphe de la vie. Pourtant, de la foule 
immense des humains surgit parfois un etre privilegie dont 1 'imagination 



semble adopter et continuer Pelan de la nature, creant des personnes 
a son tour. C'est le poete dramatique. D 'ordinaire, les personnages 
issus de sa fantaisie lui ressemblent, il est vrai, un peu, et se ressemblent 
aussi les uns aux autres ; ils n'atteignent qu'exceptionnellement la 
plenitude de richesse de la vie. Mais ceux de Shakespeare sont d'une 
vie surabondante ; ils ne se ressemblent pas entre eux ; chacun a son 
existence inde'pendante, comme s'il avait e*te lance* dans le monde par 
la meme force qui donna naissance aux formes organisees, a la vie en 
ge'ne'ral. L'ceuvre de Shakespeare est plus qu'humaine. 

Aucune oeuvre des hommes ne porte en tous cas, plus que celle-la, 
Tempreinte divine. 



un jugement quelque peu neuf et original sur Shakespeare 
me parait si difficile, et m'est si impossible, que je me bornerais volontiers 
a appliquer au grand poete anglais les paroles inscrites sur la tombe de 
Dante : Quorate V altissimo poeta. Mais cela repondrait trop peu au 
sentiment de tendresse tout particulier que beaucoup de Franais ont 
voue a Shakespeare, et qui peut toucher nos amis d'Angleterre. C'est 
pourquoi, en m'excusant de ce qu'il y a de personnel et de familier dans 
les citations que je vais faire et dans le petit fait que je conterai, je veux 
montrer par un tres humble exemple le mien avec quelle affectueuse 
ferveur on peut, chez nous, aimer Shakespeare, ce qui est autre chose 
que de reconnaitre, comme tout le monde, son prodigieux genie. 

Dans ma seizieme annee, devenu Phote errant d'une foret pendant 
la saison clemente, tout comme Orlando, j'y eus pour unique ami 
un petit Shakespeare que j'avais rapporte de Jersey ; et voici en quels 
termes je parlais de cet ami : 

Je n'ai pas de vain souci dans la tete; 
L'azur infini me sourit encor; 
Et ma solitude est changee en fete 
Par un bleu Shakspeare enlumine d'or. 

Deux ou trois ans plus tard, dans les premiers vers que je livrais au 
public, figurait un Hymne a VAngleterre, dont je detache une strophe : 

Quand tu n'aurais eu que Shakspeare, 
Tu serais le pays sacre, 
Puisque sous ton ciel on respire 
L'air que Shakspeare a respire! 

Je citerai pour finir un fait plus significatif, peut-etre, que ces 
effusions naives. En 1885, je n'etais plus Tadolescent qui cherchait 
Rosalinde dans la foret de Fontainebleau ; j'avais deux fois son age. 
Pris d'un irresistible desir de voir Ceylan, paradis de fleurs et de palmes, 
et aussi de venerer le souvenir du Bouddha dans les temples de cette 
ile sacree, je partis pour aller passer quinze jours a Colombo et a Kandy. 


Certes, je devais revenir emerveille de tout ce que j'avais vu, senti, 
respire* dans le paysage ide*al de Ceylan comme dans ses sanctuaires 
fleuris, de* die's a la sainte pitie* humaine ; mais, lorsque j'y arrival, trois 
semaines de bateau, une alimentation bizarre et la chaleur subite, en 
sortant de 1'hiver europe*en, m'avaient gratifie* d'une sorte de cholera. 
Des que je fus installe dans mon hotel, qu'entourait un bois de coco tiers 
au bord des riots bleus, a une petite distance de Colombo, il me fallut, 
pour quelques jours, renoncer a toute nourriture et, roule dans un 
chale, m'etendre sur une chaise longue. Bien que ma chambre, avec 
sa fenetre de bois ajoure et sans vitres, fut une petite arche de Noe, 
ou il y avait, entre autres choses, un nid de moineaux, des legions de 
fourmis, des myriades de moustiques, des tarentes et des scorpions, un 
peu d'ennui ne tarda pas a me gagner. Pour etre plus attentif a ce que 
je verrais, je n'avais voulu emporter aucun livre, sauf une petite algebre 
anglaise de poche. Apres avoir resolu un certain nombre d 'equations, 
je sentis grandir ma me*lancolie ; je pensai d'une facon plus precise que 
j'e*tais a vingt jours au minimum de tous ceux que j'aimais, et bien seul 
dans mon paradis, ou plutot dans le coin de ce paradis oil me retenait la 
cholerine. Une idee lumineuse me vint : en pays anglais, je trouverais 
toujours un Shakespeare ! Aussitot, coiffe du casque blanc en moelle 
de sureau et brandissant une large ombrelle, je me glissai hors du logis ; 
je traversai, non sans apprehension, une zone terriblement ensoleillee 
(il etait pres de midi) pour atteindre Colombo ; je m'engageai dans ses 
rues, de*couvris un libraire, trouvai et achetai pour un prix derisoire 
Shakespeare complet en un volume, et revins m'allonger avec un in- 
croyable sentiment de beatitude. Je n'etais plus seul. Le plus fidele, le 
meilleur, le plus cher des amis e*tait avec moi, entre mes mains et dans 
mes yeux aussi bien que dans ma pensee et dans mon coeur. Pour 
commencer je relus avec delices Twelfth-Night, or What you Will, et, 
comme par enchantement, les heures devolues au cholera s'enfuirent 
d'un vol le*ger . . . 

Que Ton me pardonne 1'enfantillage de ces souvenirs. La Bhagavad- 
Gita enseigne qu'il n'est point necessaire d'honorer la Divinite par 
de somptueux sacrifices : le plus pauvre peut la toucher au cceur en 
lui offrant avec amour un lotus, une feuille, quelques gouttes d'eau. 



UN passage de Conte cTHiver 1 nous invite a comparer entre elles 
les vues de Shakespeare et celles de Bacon, au sujet des rapports de 
1'Art et de la Nature. Shakespeare ecrit : 

. . . o'er that art, 

Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art 
That nature makes. 

Or Bacon, examinant la conception suivant laquelle Tart serait 
une addition apportee a la nature (additamentum quoddam naturae), la 
repousse de la maniere suivante : * L'art, dit-il, n'est pas autre chose 
que la nature. Un art qui sait mettre en jeu les forces de la nature 
produira des changements bien autrement profonds que cet art qui, 
selon vous, ajoute a la nature.' 2 

La ressemblance parait etroite ; est-elle reelle ? 

Bacon part de 1'idee de Tart humain : il le fait consister dans une 
certaine faculte d 'assembler les choses naturelles autrement qu 'elles 
ne s'assemblent d'elles-memes. Cette definition, qui est celle des arts 
mecaniques, sufHt a Bacon pour caracteriser la poesie elle-meme, laquelle, 
selon lui, n'est autre chose que la substitution de combinaisons arti- 
ficielles aux groupements naturels des evenements, tels que 1'histoire 
les enregistre. Passant de 1'art humain a 1'art de la nature, Bacon fait 
consister ce dernier dans la propriete qu'ont certains etres de former, 
avec les elements naturels, des combinaisons que ceux-ci, abandonnes 
a eux-memes, n'auraient pas realisees. C'est ainsi que les abeilles, du 
sue des fleurs, font leur miel. 

Ainsi entendu, 1'art n'est autre chose que ce que 1'on appelle propre- 
ment 1'industrie. 

Or Shakespeare, dans sa conception de 1'art, part, au contraire, 

1 Winter's Tale, Acte IV, sc. iii. 2 Bacon, Descriptio globt intellectualis, c. ii. 


de l'ide*e de la nature ; et, voyant en elle la grande creatrice : great 
creating nature, il me*prise un art qui, par des proce'de's mecaniques, 
essaierait de Pimiter. Un tel art ne creerait que des * batards de la 
nature '. Shakespeare ne distingue pas, comme Bacon, entre les mate*- 
riaux et Tagent, pour conclure que la nouveaute ne se rencontre jamais 
que dans Parrangement, non dans les e* laments. L'art, chez lui, est, 
bien re*ellement, et a la lettre, createur. C'est dans ce sens que Hamlet 
s'e*crie : 

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 

De cet art, inne* a la nature, Tart humain participe : en sorte que, 
lui aussi, pe*netre la matiere des choses comme leur forme, et cre*e 

En quoi consistent, en second lieu, pour Bacon et pour Shakespeare, 
les produits de Tart ? 

Pour Bacon, ce sont des ceuvres visibles, tangibles, prop res a etre 
e*tudiees du dehors et a figurer parmi les objets de la science, comme 
toutes les choses dont se compose la nature. L'histoire de Part n'est 
qu'un chapitre de Phistoire naturelle. 

II n'en est pas de meme pour Shakespeare. Essentiellement vie 
et creation, la nature cre*e des etres qui sont, eux-memes, vivants et 
createurs. Et Tart humain, qui prend sa source dans Tart naturel, le 
prolonge, et, lui-meme, cree la vie. 

Des ceuvres de Pindustrie les ceuvres d'art se distinguent ainsi 
radicalement. L'ceuvre de Shakespeare n'est pas une chose : c'est un 
etre, c'est un foyer infiniment riche et puissant de vie, de sentiment, 
de passion, de pensee, d'action, de creation. 

L'homme est sujet a un mal etrange. Ses emotions les plus sinceres, 
les plus profondes, les plus violentes, avec le temps, ou meme du jour 
au lendemain, ne sont plus pour lui que des souvenirs abstraits, des 
ide*es incites, des mots, qu'il comprend avec son intelligence, mais qui, 
maintenant, laissent son ame insensible. * Quel ane je suis ! dit Hamlet. 
Oh ! c'est beau a moi, dont le pere cheri a ete assassine, a moi, que le 
ciel et Tenfer arment pour la vengeance, de rester la, comme une com- 
mere, a d^charger mon coeur en paroles, a m'epuiser en gros mots et en 
injures.' Cette maladie est ce qu'on appelle psittacisme. Elle consiste 
a dire des paroles, sans en realiser, en son ame, le sens vivant. Or 
Tart, tel que Shakespeare le con9oit, a cette mission et cette puissance, de 


reveiller ou de creer, par des mots, par des formes sensibles, la vie, 
Pemotion, le sens de la realite et de Faction, dans des esprits pour qui 
les mots n'etaient plus que des mots. 

Et Shakespeare, entre tous, est ce magicien qui, avec des syllabes, 
des rythmes, des images, des raisonnements, nous fait voir, eprouver, 
vivre, les realties memes que ses pieces traduisent. 

L'art shakespearien est la nature triomphant de la nature, c'est le 
sentiment, reel et authentique, se dressant, plus vivant que jamais, 
hors de la tombe, ou 1'habitude a enfoui et scelle son cadavre. Nous 
diras-tu, 6 sentiment, par quel miracle 

. . . thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death, 
Have burst their cerements! 

Quelle conception du monde et de la vie resulte, dans Bacon et 
dans Shakespeare, de cette signification donnee a Tart ? 

Bacon ouvre son Novum Organum par cet aphorisme : Natura non 
nisi parendo vincitur. Le mot essentiel de cette phrase, c'est : vincitur. 
La nature est un mecanisme ; et d'un mecanisme la science peut donner 
la clef. Grace a la science, 1'homme pourra, de plus en plus, user de la 
nature comme d'une esclave. L'art humain, application de la science, 
c'est la nature dechue de son empire sur 1'homme, et enchainee (naturae 
vincula) : c'est 1'homme maitre du monde. 

Tout autre est le point de vue de Shakespeare. 

L'art de la nature, ou 1'art humain, qui en est une emanation, est 
un merveilleux createur de vie, de formes, de reves, de joies, de douleurs, 
de variete et de beaute. Est-il done tout-puissant, et peut-il modeler 
le monde suivant 1'ideal qu'il se donne ? 

En face de la nature comme puissance de creation Shakespeare voit 
subsister, immobile, inaccessible, une nature aveugle, violente, brutale, 
qui ignore ou bafoue les plus nobles aspirations de Tame humaine. 

Que peuvent nos efforts pour faire regner en ce monde la justice, 
la bienveillance, 1'amour, la verite ? Qu'est-ce que notre histoire, sinon 
1'eternel et invincible triomphe de la force et de la mechancete sur le 
droit et sur la bonte ? 

And captive good attending captain ill ! 

A ces maux quel remede concevoir ? 
La mort, peut-etre ? 

Tired with all these for restful death I cry. 


Mais qui sait si la mort n'est pas simplement un sommeil, et si 
ce sommeil n'est pas traverse* par des reves horribles ? 

La philosophic et 1 'empire de la raison ? 

Mais que peut la raison en face des fatalites de la nature ? Oui, 
j'obe*irai a ma raison, si elle-meme obe*it a ma passion. 

... Be advis'd. 

I am ; and by my fancy : if my reason 
Will thereto be obedient, I have reason. 

Mais, dira-t-on, en user ainsi avec la raison, c'est se moquer d'elle. 

Fort bien : il n'y a done d'autre issue pour rhomme que la folie. 
C'est elle qu'il faut appeler, qu'il faut accueilfir, qu'il faut che*rir : 

If not, my senses, better pleased with madness, 
Do bid it welcome. 

L'art est un merveilleux tissu, aux mille couleurs, chatoyantes et 
captivantes, que la nature elle-meme jette sur ses abimes de souffrance 




LE temps qui detruit si impitoyablement les reputations usurpees 
n'a pas de prise sur les ecrivains qui ont merite la gloire par la purete 
de leur genie. II y a trois cents ans que Shakespeare est mort et peut-on 
dire qu'il nous ait quittes ? Son ame habite encore parmi nous ; elle 
vivifie notre epoque autant, sinon plus, qu'aux jours ou elle agissait 
par la vertu de sa presence reelle. Jamais son influence ne fut plus 
radieuse ni plus universelle. 

Pour echapper a un moment d'angoisse j'ai repris ce soir le livre 
prefere qui depuis dix-huit mois gisait delaisse sur ma table. Mon 
esprit a beau etre alourdi par les tristesses de cet age de fer et de sang, 
a la seule vue des pages familieres il recouvre toute son elasticite. 
L'essaim des vieux enthousiasmes surgit brusquement du texte inspire 
et emplit la nuit de son vol dore. Je retrouve les joies des premieres 
lectures a 1 'epoque deja lointaine ou, explorateur ardent, je decouvrais 
la litterature anglaise. Je me sens pret a nouveau pour les adorations. 
Et puisque Ton me demande de joindre ma voix au chceur des admira- 
teurs du poete, je vais, au cours de cette veille studieuse, noter mes 
impressions, sans ordre, au hasard de leur naissance. Ce sera, faute de 
mieux, I'hommage d'un Fran$ais au plus grand des Anglais. 

*fF 'vf 

II est difficile de songer a Shakespeare sans sortir de soi-meme. 
Car il y a dans son oeuvre une vertu occulte qui agit a la maniere d'un 
excitant. Sous son influence, 1 'esprit est comme souleve ; il se sent 
penetre d'allegresse ; la pensee devient plus fluide et s'epanche ; des 
coins obscurs de la memoire subconsciente s'entr'ouvrent et livrent 
leurs tresors d'idees neuves et d 'images. En de pareils moments les 
ecrivains de race, portes au faite de leur puissance, sont prets a donner 
le meilleur d'eux-memes. 

Certains esprits, par contre, ne peuvent approcher de la pensee 
shakespearienne sans danger pour la raison. Shakespeare traine a sa 
suite un cortege de songe-creux et de bayeurs aux chimeres qui ont 


a son sujet e*chafaude* les plus extravagantes fantaisies. De la vient que 
seul peut-etre des e*crivains modernes il a donne* lieu a des discussions 
sur la re*alite* de son existence. Mais pourquoi partir en guerre contre 
ces admirateurs a rebours ? Us te*moignent a leur maniere de la hauteur 
vertigineuse ou se tient le poete. 



On n'a pas, a mon sens, loue comme il convient le style de Shake 
speare. II ne suffit pas de vanter la richesse inepuisable du vocabulaire, 
Paisance de la phrase, la splendeur eclatante des images. Ces prodiga- 
lites d'une imagination gene* reuse ne sont pas le privilege de Shake 
speare : on les rencontre chez des ecrivains de moindre puissance. Ce 
qui me parait plus essentiel, c'est la valeur musicale de la langue de 
Shakespeare. Ici nous pe*netrons vraiment jusqu'a la source cachee 
de cette vertu stimulante que je relevais tout a 1'heure. A 1'oreille la 
phrase se reVele comme Pun des plus merveilleux instruments qui aient 
jamais re*sonne*. Tout ce qui pourrait ressembler a des defauts 
surabondance des metaphores, expressions obscures, enchevetrement 
des periodes se resorbe instantanement et il ne reste plus que les 
cadences infinies d'une melodie souple et savante, les broderies musicales 
d'un theme dont la puissance rythmique vous transporte. A entendre 
certains passages le duo entre Lorenzo et Jessica, par exemple 

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank! 
Here will we sit and let the sound of music 
Creep in our ears ; soft stillness and the night 
Become the touches of sweet harmony, etc. 

j'eprouve une volupte aussi intense qu'a ecouter chanter sur un violon 
parfait la plus limpide des melodies. Dans des morceaux comme celui-ci 
les mots eveillent Pidee autant par le son que par le sens ; ils ont une 
signification redoublee, car ils se font entendre a Pame aussi bien qu'a 
Pesprit. Quant a dire de quoi est composee cette harmonic, je ne Pes- 
saierai pas. La formule selon laquelle ont ete combinees consonnes 
et voyelles echappe a la definition. De pareils phenomenes ne s'analy- 
sent pas plus que la voix du vent dans la foret ou le chant d'allegresse 
de la mer par une belle nuit : ils ne sont pas du ressort de Pesprit 

Les critiques, quand ils parlent de Shakespeare, sont a ce point 
unanimes que Pon va repetant certains eloges sans en percevoir la signifi 
cation profonde. Comme il arrive pour les ve* rites consacrees par le 


temps, ces jugements paraissent si indiscutables qu'ils prennent force 
de proverb es et finissent par ne plus arreter Pesprit. Ainsi on considere 
comme naturel que Shakespeare ait excelle a la fois dans le tragique et 
dans le comique. C'est pourtant un fait unique dans 1'histoire du 


Nul n'a peint mieux que Shakespeare la nature humaine et la vie. 
L 'image qu'il nous a donnee du monde est si ressemblante qu'apres 
trois cents ans, et malgre les modifications subies par les moeurs, nous 
la reconnaissons comme verite d'aujourd'hui, et qu'elle peut servir de 
pierre de touche a notre experience : Shakespeare est le plus impeccable 
des realistes. 

Mais il a ete doue de rimagination la plus vaste, la plus audacieuse 
qui ait jamais embrase un esprit ; il a appuye son front sur les nuages et 
recule a perte de vue la limite du reve : Shakespeare est le plus imma- 
teriel des poetes. 

II est deja rare de voir un homme reunir en lui et sans heurts des 
temperaments qui s'excluent. Mais qu'un ecrivain un auteur drama- 
tique surtout ait su les combiner dans son ceuvre, selon un dosage qui 
jamais ne cheque, cela tient du prodige. 

* * 

Shakespeare devrait faire le desespoir des critiques qui le com- 
mentent ; car il n'y a pas d'auteur dont les caracteristiques soient moins 
determinees. Aucune formule n'enserre sa maniere ; il n'est jamais le 
meme ni lui-meme ; il est innombrable comme une foule. Les generalisa 
tions a son sujet sont impossibles et, d'autre part, ses precedes drama- 
tiques sont des plus simples : ils sont vieux comme le monde. Tout se 
ramene done a une question d 'excellence. Le critique, eperdu devant 
tant de richesse mouvante, en est reduit a Tadmiration. Encore celle-ci 
essaie-t-elle en vain de se renouveler ; elle aboutit toujours a 1'hyperbole. 


De tres bons esprits ont pris a partie les admirateurs de Shakespeare 
et, apres les avoir vertement tances de leur aveuglement, ils les ont 
traites d'idolatres. Si Ton regarde de pres ces contempteurs on s'aper- 
9oit vite que ce sont ou bien des etrangers ou des gens que la metaphy- 
sique a troubles. Les premiers ne comprennent pas. Les seconds 
confondent le royaume de la speculation et celui de 1'imagination ; ils 

c c 


cherchent un philosophe a leur taille ; ils trouvent un poete et ne s'en 
consolent pas. 


Bien des gens s'obstinent a vouloir percer 1'obscurite qui entoure 
la vie de Shakespeare. II semble a ces admirateurs inassouvis du poete 
que, s'ils connaissaient son existence dans le detail, ils y de*couvriraient des 
actes prodigieux. Je ne partage pas cette curiosite, car je suis persuade 
que si nous pouvions la satisfaire nous serions cruellement decus. 
L 'image que je me forme a 1'aide des quelques renseignements qui nous 
sont parvenus me suffit et elle est, j'en suis sur, ressemblante ; des faits 
nouveaux n'y ajouteraient rien. Les hommes qui portent en eux un 
grand reve ne s'imposent pas violemment a 1'attention du vulgaire. 
Leur vie interieure est trop ardente : elle etouffe le desir des manifesta 
tions bruy antes et surtout le besoin de paraitre qui est la passion des 
mediocres. Ils peuvent etre affables et de bonne compagnie ; mais 
a cela se bornent les avances qu'ils font au monde, car se suffisant 
a eux-memes ils ne cherchent pas a conquerir les suffrages d'autrui. 
Ils traversent la vie modestes et effaces. Si leurs oeuvres trahissent 
leur grandeur, c'est generalement a la surprise de ceux qui les con- 
naissent. Ceci s 'applique exactement a Shakespeare. II n'y a pas 
d'e'crivain celebre autour duquel se soient cristallise'es moins de legendes. 
II ne semble meme pas avoir echauffe* outre mesure 1'enthousiasme de 
ses contemporains. * Gentle Shakespeare,' tel est le jugement peu 
complexe ou ont abouti les efforts laudatifs de ceux qui 1'aimerent. 
Cette simple epithete, dans sa pauvrete, est pour moi plus revelatrice 
qu'un volume de dithyrambes. 


Et d'ailleurs qu'est-il besoin de connaitre la vie de Shakespeare par 
le menu quand nous pouvons mediter sur 1'acte qui a clos sa carriere ? 
Parmi les traits rapportes sur les grands hommes je n'en vois pas de 
plus significatif ni de plus beau que cette volonte du poete de retourner 
mourir dans son pays natal. Avoir conscience qu'on a cree une oeuvre 
grandiose et eternelle ; avoir vu des foules ployees sous 1'emotion et la 
terreur ou convulsees par le rire ; avoir eprouve 1'ivresse de 1'artiste qui 
sent son reve se communiquer d'ame a ame, etre Shakespeare enfin ! 
Puis un jour, en pleine force, deposer cette royaute intellectuelle, 
reprendre le chemin de la petite ville ou les yeux se sont ouverts 
a la beaute du ciel et borner de'sormais sa vie a 1'horizon du proprie- 
taire campagnard ! Tout 1'homme est dans ce geste. Sa simplicite, sa 


sagesse, sa force d'ame, son detachement des mirages du monde, sa 
sante mentale, sa grandeur eclat ent dans cette decision. Au sortir 
d'une lecture de 1'ceuvre, alors que mon esprit est encore tout fremissant, 
j'aime a evoquer cette image de Shakespeare citoyen de Stratford, et je 
comprends alors ce qui fait sa suprematie. Shakespeare n'a pas ete 
ronge par le mal des ecrivains. Les mesquineries, les petites ambitions, 
les habiletes professionnelles du litterateur n'ont jamais terni chez lui 
la purete de Inspiration. S'il a ete un grand auteur dramatique c'est 
que nulle preoccupation d'ecole ne s'est interposee entre la conception 
et Texpression. La pensee a toujours coule des sources profondes ou 
se mirait sa sincerite. II n'a pas vise a Teffet : il s'est contente d'ecouter 
parler en lui la voix eternelle de rhumanite. Et s'il a peint rhomme 
avec tant de verite c'est peut-etre tout simplement parce qu'il n'a 
jamais cesse d'etre homme. 


C C 2 



UN nom domine toute la litterature anglaise, un des plus hauts 
de la litterature universelle, celui de Shakespeare. II n'est pas de 
personnalite plus complexe, d'art plus difficile a comprendre pour des 
esprits latins. Depuis Voltaire jusqu'a Richepin, classiques et roman- 
tiques 1'ont egalement travesti a plaisir et compris de travers ; et Ton 
ne sait laquelle admirer le plus, I'incomprehension des uns ou des 
autres. C'est que, de part et d'autre, on Pa e*tudie avec des pre* occupa 
tions uniquement fran9aises, et juge au nom d'une esthetique qui n'e*tait 
pas la sienne, Pexaltant ou le depreciant tour a tour pour des raisons 
contradictoires, mais d'une faussete egalement merveilleuse. Quel 
espoir done de faire penetrer dans des cerveaux d'ecoliers une apprecia 
tion juste de ce colosse incompris ? Et ne vaut-il pas mieux abandonner 
cette tache desesperee ? ou se contenter de donner a la fin des etudes 
quelque esquisse sommaire de ses traits prodigieux ? 

Nullement. C'est des la Sixieme que Ton doit commencer 1 'etude de 
Shakespeare, et cette affirmation n'est pas un paradoxe. C'est Shake 
speare qui enseignera Shakespeare : c'est par un commerce prolonge 
avec Tceuvre que nos eleves arriveront a la comprendre, et non par des 
analyses, des resumes, des lectures entasse*es a la fin de leurs etudes. 
Et voici comment on procedera. 

Des la fin de la Sixieme, on fera apprendre aux eleves des frag 
ments de chansons shakespeariennes. II en existe dans La Tempete, 
dans Le Songe d'une Nuit d'fite', ailleurs, d'une langue si elementaire 
qu'ils les comprendront presque du premier coup ; chansons de fees 
et d'esprits, si simples qu'elles sont accessibles a rintelligence d'un 
enfant, si belles que Timagination de Thomme n'en a jamais reve de 
plus belles. En Cinquieme, on completera ces chansons, on en donnera 
d'autres, entieres, en lecon, sans que le nom de Tauteur soit prononce. 
En Quatrieme, on racontera sommairement 1'intrigue de telle ou telle 
piece, on fera connaitre a Thieve le merveilleux conteur qu'est 


Shakespeare, et le tresor d'emouvantes histoires que contient son oeuvre ; 
on ajoutera quelques maximes, proverbes, tirades tres courtes ; rien 
de plus facile que d'en trouver qui soient a la portee des plus jeunes 
esprits. En Troisieme, on completera ces histoires, on en racontera 
d'autres plus longuement, on en fera lire ; quelques courts extraits 
simplifies seront expliques en classe, appris par coeur. 

Ainsi d'annee en annee s'augmentera la matiere shakespearienne 
deposee graduellement dans 1 'esprit de nos eleves, et qui peu a peu 
agira sur lui pour le transformer, le preparer a accueillir avec compre 
hension, avec sympathie, avec familiarite, ce qui, presente en bloc, 
brusquement, 1'aurait deconcerte ou rebute. D 'obscures correspon- 
dances s'etabliront entre les divers fragments d'abord dissocies, et les 
disjecta membra poetae se rejoindront un jour pour vivre dans rharmonie 
de leur vie profonde. II n'est pas trop de plusieurs annees pour fami- 
liariser de petits Francais avec 1'etrangete d'une telle oeuvre, et pour 
y parvenir rien ne vaut cette action de presence prolongee. Chaque 
poete cree le gout par lequel il est apprecie : a toute poesie, nouvelle 
par la date ou par la race, il faut une accoutumance ; Ton y penetre, 
non par brusque decouverte, mais par lente initiation ; et plus cette 
initiation est graduelle, plus la possession est parfaite. Et ce qui est 
vrai pour la poesie en general Test doublement pour Shakespeare. 

L 'etude de Shakespeare sera done implicite avant d'etre explicite, et 
le jour ou le maitre 1'abordera ouvertement nos eleves seront prepares 
a comprendre ses commentaires, ses rapprochements, les fragments plus 
etendus, les pieces entieres, qu'on leur fera connaitre en Seconde 
et en Premiere. Aux lectures dispersees succedera maintenant 1'etude 
consciente, et un effort pour coordonner toutes les notions precedem- 
ment acquises ou implicitement contenues dans ces lectures. Le maitre 
s'assignera comme tache de faire entrer dans Tesprit de ses eleves 
Tessentiel de Tceuvre shakespearienne et d'en degager pour eux les 
caracteres generaux. Par une revision methodique de tous les passages 
appris ou vus et 1'exposition exacte et simple des notions qu'ils peuvent 
fournir sur 1'art et 1'ceuvre du poete, par des rapprochements entre les 
fragments deja connus et de nouveaux extraits de meme inspiration, on 
les amenera a voir clairement, dans 1'ordre de leur importance et de leur 
complexite, les plus frappants de ces caracteres. C'est ainsi que par la 
comparaison entre les sujets et les decors des pieces racontees en Qua- 
trieme et en Troisieme et ceux des pieces dont on parlera ou qu'on lira 
en Seconde et en Premiere ; par le contraste commente entre les listes 
de personnages en tete d'une piece shakespearienne et d'une tragedie 


classique, si nombreux et si varies dans Tune, si limites aux seuls per- 
sonnages nobles et en si petit nombre dans 1'autre ; par d'autres commen- 
taires encore, on fera sentir aux eleves d'abord le premier de ces caracteres, 
qui est la varitti. Et en effet ils verront par eux-memes la variete infinie 
de 1'ceuvre qui embrasse toute la re*alite et tout le reve, 1'antiquite et la 
legende, le moyen age et la Renaissance, tous les pays et tous les decors, 
vrais ou fabuleux, depuis 1'figypte de Cleopatre, la Rome de Coriolan 
ou de Cesar, Tardente, la brillante et pe*rilleuse Italic de Juliette et de 
Beatrice, la sombre ficosse feodale de Macbeth, jusqu'a Tile * pleine 
de musique ' de La Tempete, 1'Athenes des Dues, la Foret des Ardennes, 
tous les etres, reels ou imaginaires, sublimes ou vils, tragiques ou 
comiques, de pure fantaisie lyrique ou d'exacte observation ; et ou 
tout vit avec une vraisemb lance et une intensite* egales, cordonniers 
ou rois, fees et artisans, sorcieres et joyeuses commeres, les heros de 
Plutarque et les esprits de Pair, les princes du songe ou de la verte 
Angleterre, Hamlet, Prospero, les Richard, les Henri, la plebe de Rome, 
la canaille de Londres et les douces, les gracieuses apparitions de Desde- 
mone et de Cordelia, d'Ophelie et de Rosalinde ; ou toutes les voix 
se melent en un choeur immense qui semble la voix meme de 1'huma- 
nite : accents desoles, augustes ou terribles, celestes ou moqueurs, 
vastes rires, ivresses d 'amour qui fusent en roulades de rossignols, 
sanglots dechirants, cris de demence et de haine, chansons aeriennes, 
appels heroi'ques, bouffonneries triviales, ou divins accords myste'rieux : 
toutes les joies, toutes les souffrances, tous les elans du coeur, toutes les 
fantaisies de 1'esprit, la musique la plus vate et la plus variee qui ait 
jamais jailli d'une ame humaine. 

Puis , enfin , en Premiere , par la lecture d 'une piece entiere , on penetrera 
Tart du poete et on en fera sentir 1'extreme compkxite. On montrera, 
en faisant saillir la relation intime qui existe entre le decor, Faction, 
les personnages, que chaque piece est un monde a part, reel, concret, 
particulier et complet, ou tout se tient, ou rien n'existe que par la con 
cordance et la collaboration de tous les elements a la fois. Et c'est 
ainsi qu'a la tragedie du jeune amour il faut le decor de 1'Italie cruelle 
et voluptueuse, de VeVone dechiree par ses haines hereditaires, de 
Tamoureuse nuit italienne enchantee de lune, chargee d'ardeurs, de 
langueurs et de parfums, ou palpite la voix du rossignol, ou sous les 
lustres des bals tournoient comme des papillons les beaux seigneurs 
amoureux et batailleurs, ou les breves et fievreuses destinees sont en- 
veloppees de menaces, traversees de joies et de terreurs excessives, 
ou tout est plus rapide, aile, ivre de vie legere qu'ailleurs ; et on evo- 


quera par contraste cette sombre Elseneur ou, parmi les brumes, les 
mysteres et les vagues angoisses du Nord et de la Nuit, Hamlet se debat 
au milieu des fantomes centre 1'insoluble probleme du devoir et de la 
vie. On dira quelle atmosphere malefique, alourdie de vapeurs de sang 
et d 'obscures epouvantes, pese sur la superstitieuse et sauvage ficosse 
de ce noir xi e siecle ou parmi les incantations des sorcieres et les prodiges 
se deroule le drame de Pambition feodale ; que les hesitations, les hallu 
cinations, les carnages de Macbeth, les audaces, les terreurs et les 
remords de Lady Macbeth, de ce chatelain et de cette chatelaine ecossais 
qui ont commis 1'inexpiable forfait de tuer 1'hote et le suzerain, leur 
bienfaiteur et leur roi, n'ont de vraisemblance et de realite que dans 
ce monde primitif livre aux puissances invisibles du mal, parmi ces 
apres solitudes desolees par Pinterminable hiver ou Tesprit inculte et 
desoeuvre, Tame instable et violente de ces barbares ressassent sans fin 
les memes images de meurtre et d'horreur, s'affolent jusqu'au crime et a 
la demence. On apprendra a nos eleves, en leur racontant 1'histoire pue 
rile et terrible de Lear, qu'elle nous vient de la legendaire Bretagne pre- 
historique, plus barbare et plus sauvage encore que 1'ficosse du xi e siecle, 
ou les hommes plus deraisonnables, plus capricieux, plus incon- 
scients que des enfants, se dechirent comme des fauves, ou les instincts 
excessifs parlent un langage forcene*, ou les passions primitives dechai- 
nees semblent lutter de violence avec le dechainement des forces ele- 
mentaires qui illuminent sinistrement de leurs eclairs et enveloppent 
de leurs tonnerres 1'insoutenable horreur de ce drame sanglant. On 
leur montrera que le lieu de ce drame du pessimisme est la tempete 
qu 'apostrophe le vieux roi desespere, tempete ou dans la desolation 
universelle ne rayonne que pour s'eteindre une seule pure etoile, la 
tendre figure de Cordelia. Par ces exemples, par d'autres, on leur fera 
saisir ainsi Timportance capitale de V atmosphere et du milieu , bref du 
ddcor dans une piece shakespearienne. On leur expliquera pourquoi 
le decor, negligeable dans une piece classique, ou tout le drame est 
interieur, abstrait, general, est indispensable quand le drame est un 
fragment d'une certaine realite particuliere devinee par Tintuition du 
poete ou creee de toutes pieces par lui, et relie a elle par mille corres- 
pondances obscures ou visibles. On aboutira ainsi naturellement a 
une comparaison entre notre art abstrait si sobre, si peu charge de 
matiere, si soucieux des belles ordonnances, qui etudie dans leur sim- 
plicite des crises debarrassees de tout element etranger et de tout detail 
particulier pour etablir des verites generales, et construire des syntheses 
de caracteres gene'raux, et 1'art anglais concret, si riche, si varie, si touffu. 


si de*sordonne en apparence, qui decrit la germination, le developpe- 
ment, les lointaines suites particulieres d'un caractere ou d'une situation, 
et cre*e de toutes pieces, comme la Nature, une realite vivante et com- 
plexe, unique et complete, qui donne 1'illusion meme de la vie. 

C'est ainsi que Ton s'elevera graduellement a une vue d'ensemble 
non seulement sur le theatre de Shakespeare mais sur 1'esthetique 
anglaise tout entiere, toujours au moyen d'exemples concrets et par 
des faits e"lementaires a la portee de nos eleves. Rien de plus necessaire 
que ces idees generales qui eclaireront toutes leurs lectures. Us com- 
prendront mieux Tart de VAvare, par exemple, le jour ou ils liront 
Silas Marner, et la difference essentielle qu'il y a entre les fins que 
poursuit le dramaturge fran9ais dans 1'etude d'une passion et cefies 
que recherche le romancier anglais. Le maitre aura fait autant pour 
leur culture fran9aise et generale que pour leur culture etrangere quand, 
dans de petites conferences qu'on leur fera faire ou que Ton fera en 
Premiere, on leur apprendra a degager ces idees generales auxquelles tout 
1'enseignement a tendu et doit tendre toujours. Ainsi preparees, ainsi 
etayees sur des exemples concrets, des lectures, la connaissance directe 
des textes, ces idees generales auront une nettete, une solidite, une 
fecondite que ne saurait jamais leur donner aucun enseignement abstrait 
ex cathedra de la litterature. C'est directement que nos eleves auront 
appris a voir la variete de 1'ceuvre shakespearienne, rimportance qu'y 
tient le decor, la complexite de cet art qui cree des drames dont chacun 
est un monde a part, reel et complet, qui veut etre juge style, action, 
personnages de Tinterieur et d'apres son esthetique propre, non au 
nom de principes abstraits et d 'idees precon9ues ; c'est grace a des 
demonstrations repetees, d'inconscientes observations multipliees, des 
impressions superposees et confirmatrices, venues de plusieurs cotes 
a la fois, qu'ils sentiront, avant de les exprimer en formules nettes, 
les profondes differences qui separent une piece de Racine ou de Moliere 
d'une piece de Shakespeare. On ne s'en tiendra pas en Premiere a la seule 
iitterature. On appliquera a la vie tout entiere du pays etranger les 
verites d'ordre general que Ton aura degagees de 1'etude de Shakespeare, 
de meme que Ton fera converger sur son oeuvre toutes les clartes que 
1'etude de cette vie fournira. On fera ainsi rentrer la litterature dans 
i'ensemble de 1 'enseignement. Par des analyses et des rapprochements 
que seul le maitre peut faire, il montrera a nos eleves que les differences 
qu'ils ont constatees en litterature se retrouvent partout, parce qu'elles 
tiennent a des differences psychologiques irreductibles, dont la marque 
et Tinfluence s'impriment pareillement a toutes les manifestations de 


chaque civilisation : langue, politique, institutions, droit, art. On les 
degagera avec nettete et on les soulignera partout ou on les rencon- 
trera, parce qu'elles sont capitales, et que seul le clair sentiment de ces 
differences permet de comprendre les choses d 'outre- Manche. L 'etude 
de la langue permet d'etablir que 1'Anglais pense par mots particuliers 
et pittoresques, le Fran9ais par mots generaux et abstraits, Tun par 
images et representations complexes, 1'autre par idees et representations 
simplifiees de la realite. On fera voir maintenant que, de meme qu'un 
Anglais parle comme il pense, il compose comme il parle, et que le 
caractere qui domine sa langue domine aussi sa litterature. Par 1'ana- 
lyse des oeuvres litteraires et des faits de civilisation, on montrera en- 
suite que partout 1 'esprit anglais se mefie de 1'abstrait et reclame le 
concret, le reel, le complexe, autant que 1'esprit frangais, epris d'ordre, 
d'abstraction, plus sensible aux cotes communs des choses qu'aux 
differences qui les separent, se complait dans le simple et le general, 
les principes absolus, les constructions logiques, codes, constitutions 
a priori^ les belles ordonnances et les theories dont 1'Anglais, pratique 
et positif, ennemi de toutes les ideologies, a 1'instinctive repugnance. 
Et, de fait, nulle part chez lui on ne retrouvera jamais cet esprit de 
synthese, ce besoin d 'idees generates , ce genie de 1 'abstraction et de la 
classification qui aboutit chez nous au Code Napoleon, a la Declaration 
des Droits de 1'Homme, a notre Administration, a nos * ecoles ' litte 
raires, intolerantes et absolues dans leurs dogmes comme des sectes 
religieuses : ni dans son droit qui n'est qu'un vaste fouillis de prece 
dents et de cas particuliers ; ni dans sa politique empirique, faite de 
compromis et d 'expedients, sans principes directeurs ni plan d 'en 
semble ; ni dans son art qui a la richesse, mais aussi le desordre, la con 
fusion de la vie. Et si 1'on veut ramasser en une formule les idees que 
je viens d'exprimer, et resumer pour nos eleves les deux tendances des 
deux esprits, on citera en Philosophic le mot de Burke, theoricien du 
realisme politique : * Je hais jusqu'au son des mots qui expriment des 
abstractions ' en le contrastant avec la boutade de Royer-Collard : 
' Je meprise un fait,' c'est-a-dire toute chose isolee dont on ne peut tirer 
une idee generate. 

Voila, brievement, les idees essentielles auxquelles doit aboutir une 
etude de Shakespeare, car ce sont celles auxquelles conduit toute etude 
anglaise, et leur importance est capitale. II faut laisser aux preferences 
individuelles le soin d'etablir dans quel ordre et dans quelle mesure on 
peut presenter a nos eleves quelques fragments de 1'ceuvre, quelle piece il 
faut choisir pour une etude complete et approfondie, qui, elle, s 'impose. 


On ne connait aucun auteur dramatique par des fragments, des mor- 
ceaux de bravoure, Shakespeare moins que tout autre ; et Macaulay 
avait raison de dire qu'il donnerait de grand coeur tous les extra! ts d'une 
piece qui paraissent dans les anthologies pour ce qui reste de la piece 
une fois ces * beautes ' enlevees. Qu'il soit possible, qu'il soit facile 
meme d'etudier dans son developpement organique une piece entiere, 
c'est ce que j'ai souvent constate ; et, notamment dans des lycees de 
jeunes filles, j'ai vu 1'impression profonde que laissent Jules Cesar > Le 
Songe d'une Nuit cTfite, Macbeth, d'autres pieces encore. Qu'il soit 
preferable de voir une seule piece de pres plutot que plusieurs en 
courant, cela va sans dire. Mais que nos eleves puissent quitter nos 
lyce*es sans en connaitre aucune, voila ce qui est inadmissible, et, je 
Tespere, ne se verra plus. 




INVIT& ajoindre, en vue du Troisieme Centenaire, mon hommage & ceux 
de plus dignes,je declinai cet honneur. La crise que, du vouloir de quelques- 
uns t traverse V Europe, et Von pent dire Vhumanite, ne laisse a quiconque 
a le bonheur de servir un instant pour autre chose que son service : du 
vouloir de quelques-uns , qui ont juge Vheure propice pour determiner lequel 
des deux principes devait Vemporter dans le monde, laprepotence de quelques- 
uns, ou bien la liberte. Peut-etre ont-ils bien juge : Vheure etait propice, 
mats non de la maniere qu'ils pensaient. Un avenir prochain en decider a. 

Le Secretaire du Comite a insiste, condescendant a se declarer satis- 
jait d'une simple marque d'hommage ; etj'offre ainsi ce qui m'est demande, 
la mise en jranqais de quelques passages d'une allocution prononcee a 
V inauguration des 'Annual Shakespeare Lectures \jondees dans V Academic 

Je me suis souvenu, comme encouragement a Vobeissance, de ces contes 
du moyen age oil, pour obtenir le maintien en grace, rien que le plus modeste 
service n'est requis : ce n'estpas Vacte qui compte, mats son accomplissement 
dans Vetat d'ame voulu ' Emplmez d'eau mon barisel '. C'est a un 
service de ce genre, accompli, fespere, dans Vetat d'ame voulu, que, en 
raison des tragiques circonstances presentes, le canon de Verdun tonnant, ce 
me semble, a mes oreilles, sera limite mon hommage. 

-*' IL n'efFa9ait jamais une ligne ? ' grommelait Jonson ; * que n'en 
a-t-il efface un millier ! . . . ' 

De renom litteraire, Shakespeare dramaturge ne se soucia jamais ; 
les necessites de 1'heure ne pouvaient toutefois etre oubliees par lui, 
celle avant tout de plaire a son public. Son public moyen, celui auquel 
il songeait surtout, dont il devait toucher ou charmer le coeur et 1'esprit 
moyens, etait celui du Globe, vaste theatre, tres frequente, qui attirait 
des auditoires populaires, et ou il pouvait arriver d'aventure qu'un 
Ambassadeur se presentat ; mais le sort des pieces ne dependait pas de 


1'applaudissement de 1'Ambassadeur ou du blame des critiques savants, 
il dependait de 1'impression produite sur la foule ; une foule turbulent e, 
au cceur chaud, de temperament sanguin, de patriotisme exuberant, 
adorant les extremes, tantot ravie par le spectacle des tortures, tantot 
emue a la mort d'une mouche * Row, if that fly had a father and 
mother ? ' aimant 1'invraisemblable, les changements inattendus, les 
bouffonneries grossieres, les jeux de mots, les traits d 'esprit communs, 
faciles a comprendre, les bruits retentissants de toute sorte : cloches, 
trompettes, canons ; toutes gens d'une ignorance encyclopedique. 

II est difficile d'exagerer le role d'un tel public en tant que colla- 
borateur aux pieces de Shakespeare veritable collaborateur, a qui il 
semble par moments que Shakespeare ait passe* la plume pour griffonner 
ce qu'il lui plait, ou la craie pour barbouiller le mur de ses dessins. 
Ce que de tels spectateurs pouvaient aimer et ce qu'ils pouvaient tolerer, 
est ce qui donna a des pieces dont 1'auteur ne se souciait en rien, les 
representations finies, la forme unique, merveilleuse, propre aussi a 
causer la stupeur, que nous leur connaissons. Grande est la respon- 
sabilite de fait d'un tel public ; grande celle de Shakespeare aussi pour 
ne lui avoir jamais rien refuse* ; grande plutot cut ete cette respon- 
sabilite* si, de propos delibere, il n'avait voulu plaire a personne qu'a ces 
hommes vivants, re*unis dans son theatre, de qui il tenait son pain 
quotidien. * Car nous/ comme le D r Johnson lui-meme dut le recon- 
naitre, ' qui vivons pour plaire, devons plaire pour vivre ' 

For we that live to please, must please to live. 

De la composition de ses pieces toutefois, Shakespeare n'attendait 
pas un seul re*sultat, mais deux : d'abord un succes inline* diat aupres de 
son auditoire et tout ce qui dependait pour lui de cette reussite ; ensuite, 
1'agreable, exhilarante, exquise satisfaction causee par 1'exercice d'une 
fonction normale de son cerveau. C'est la pour nous le principal, ce 
qui le sauva, malgre qu'il en eut ; a la nourriture grossiere que reclamait 
son parterre, il ajouta la nourriture e*theree qui a fait depuis des siecles 
les delices des plus grands parmi les hommes : et le parterre, du reste, 
n'y objectait pas. Le poete ajoutait ces merveilles par surcroit, parce 
que c'etait une satisfaction pour sa nature de le faire, que cela ne lui 
donnait pas plus de peine que les jeux de mots, les faceties ou les mas 
sacres, et parce que I'experience lui avait montre que, sans etre aucune- 
ment necessaires au succes, ces touches ne nuisaient pas et recevaient 
meme un accueil bienveillant. C'etait pour lui 1'exercice d'une fonc 
tion naturelle, comme pour un bon arbre de produire de bons fruits. 


Impossible reunion d 'extremes ! se sont ecries des sceptiques 
desireux de conclure que Shakespeare lui-meme etait une impossibilite. 
Mais il n'y a rien la d'impossible, ni meme d'unique. * Ou il est 
mauvais, il passe bien loin au dela du pire : c'est le charme de la canaille ; 
ou il est bon, il va jusques a 1'exquis et a 1'excellent : il peut etre le 
mets des plus delicats,' a dit un moraliste celebre a propos d'un grand 
ecrivain. II ne s'agissait pas de Shakespeare ; c'est le jugement bien 
connu de La Bruyere sur Rabelais. 

De ces circonstances de fait vient Pet range nature de 1'ceuvre 
shakespearienne, modele de ce que Partiste peut souhaiter atteindre 
de plus haut et de ce qu'il doit le plus soigneusement eviter ; utile des 
deux manieres. La promptitude de Shakespeare a ecrire il n'avait pas 
le choix, il fallait vivre la necessite pour lui de faire la cour a un audi- 
toire dont la faveur lui etait indispensable, expliquent, avec ce genie 
prodigieux re$u du ciel, comment le meilleur et le pire fraternisent dans 
ses pieces, ces jets d'une lumiere qui ne s'eteindra jamais et ces con 
cessions aux gouts du vulgaire (indecences, brutalites, mystifications, 
tortures, basses plaisanteries, complications laborieusement expliquees), 
ou encore les libertes qu'il se permet, assure que son public ne saura 
pas, ne se souviendra pas, ne fera pas attention. * II neglige ', dit le 
D r Johnson, ' des occasions d'instruire ou de charmer que le cours 
meme de sa donnee semblerait le contraindre a utiliser,' la raison etant 
qu'en plus d'un cas, ces occasions ne 1'ont pas frappe de prime abord, 
qu'il avait peu de temps pour se reprendre, et que, meme sans cela, 
1'auditoire serait content. De la ses anachronismes, sa geographic 
fautive, son indifference a la realite des faits, si complete qu'il n'aurait 
pas etendu la main pour prendre un livre et verifier 1 'emplacement d'une 
ville ou la date d'un evenement, pas plus qu'il n'aurait pris la peine de 
demander a son futur gendre si, apres avoir ete etouffe, un etre humain 
peut encore parler. 

II offre a son parterre et non a 1'epoque instruite ou nous vivons, 
dont il ne se preoccupa jamais et qui n'a nul droit de se plaindre puis- 
qu'elle re9oit un don gratuit, sans que rien ait ete attendu d'elle, un regne 
du Roi Jean sans la Grande Charte, mais avec beaucoup de poudre 
a canon et un Due d'Autriche, mort dans la realite avant la date ou la 
piece commence. II adopte, par motifs de commodite, deux regies 
auxquelles nul de ses auditeurs ne pouvait etre tente d'objecter : Tune 
est que tous les personnages antiques, ayant vecu dans 1'antiquite, 
sont contemporains et peuvent se citer les uns les autres ; c'est ainsi 
qu'Hector cite Aristote, Menenius parle d'Alexandre et de Galien> 


Titus Lartius compare Coriolan a Caton. L'autre regie est que toutes 
les villes e'loigne'es sont sur le bord de la mer. Rome, Florence, Milan, 
Mantoue, Padoue, Ve*rone, pour ne rien dire de la Boheme, sont sur le 
bord de la mer. Ses personnages vont par mer de Padoue a Pise, de 
Ve*rone a Milan ; pour quitter Verone, ils attendent la maree. Pourquoi 
prendre peine ? II e*crivait seulement pour des gens qui ne savaient, ni 
ne se souciaient de rien de tout cela, composant des drames nullement 
destines a survivre, et qui avaient deux auteurs, Shakespeare et la foule 
bigarree du Globe. 

Elles ont survecu cependant ; leur action sur le monde grandit 
a mesure que les annees passent ; elles sont fameuses dans des regions 
dont le nom meme e*tait inconnu a leur auteur. Le catalogue du British 
Museum contient deux fois plus de numeros au mot Shakespeare qu'au 
mot Homere ; dix-sept fois plus qu'il n'en comptait il y a un demi- 
siecle. Dans le calme de notre bibliotheque, dans le coin d'un com- 
partiment de chemin de fer, sur le pont d'un navire, nous ouvrons le 
livre et lisons la premiere scene : la magie de Prospero opere, nous 
sommes a lui, prets a le suivre oil il veut, a croire et sentir comme il 
voudra. Le spectacle une fois vu, les mots une fois entendus s'impri- 
ment de telle maniere en notre esprit, que le simple nom du lieu, de 
rhomme, la femme, 1 'enfant, ne pourront plus etre prononces desormais 
devant nous sans que le grandiose ou gracieux pay sage, le personnage 
aimant, haissant, rieur ou en larmes, et avec lui tout ce qui tient a lui, sa 
famille, son ennemi, son aimee, sa maison, son chien, nous apparaisse, 
en la meme lumiere que s'il vivait a nouveau parmi nous ; et nous le 
suivons sur les terrasses d'Elseneur dans le jardin, baigne de lune, des 
Capulets, sur la lande battue des tempetes, rendez-vous de sorcieres de 
Lear ou de Macbeth, les bois pres d'Athenes, le forum remain, le pare 
enchante de 1'enchanteresse de Belmont, ou les champs de bataille reels 
qui virent se preparer dans le sang les destinees de 1'Angleterre et de la 
France, longtemps ennemies, longtemps amies. Ronsard n'a-t-il pas 
predit le retour des temps heureux sur terre, si jamais s'unissaient en 
perpetuelle amitie, 

Vostre Angleterre avecques nostre France? 

Nous vieillissons, le monde change ; les personnages de Shake 
speare, non pas. Ils nous demeurent si presents qu'il est difficile de 
visiter aucun des lieux que parfois il a simplement nommes, et n'a pas 
de*crits, sans que le premier personnage qui s'y off re a notre pensee 
soit le heros shakespearien. II s'evoque de lui-meme et surgit a nos 


yeux, bien avant que nous puissions songer aux hommes celebres ayant 
vecu la leur vie reelle. Combien de voyageurs, arrivant a Elseneur, 
songeront d'abord a Christian IV, et seulement ensuite a Hamlet ? 

Puissantes ou douces figures, amoureux que la mort va Jeter au 
tombeau, chefs d'armee, anxieux Hamlet, dedaigneux Coriolan, ardent 
Romeo, pensif Brutus, exuberant Falstaff, et ces primeveres de 1'eternel 
printemps, Portia, Rosalinde, Ophelie, Juliette, Desdemone, se levent 
captivantes ou terribles, ou risibles, au seul nom d 'Elseneur, Eastcheap, 
Ardennes, Verone, Venise. Pendant la duree du mirage, notre vie 
semble fondue en la leur. Entre Partiste et les enfants de sa pensee, le 
phenomene est frequent ; entre les enfants de sa pensee et le lecteur 
du livre, il est rare. Nul maitre-magicien n'a mieux possede cette 
magie que le grand Anglais, mort il y a trois cents ans, distributeur de 
vie, briseur d'entraves. 

Un coucher de soleil peut briller et s'eteindre inobserve du vul- 
gaire ; il passera moins facilement inobserve en sa splendeur evanescente 
si Claude Lorrain le fixe sur la toile. Car au paysage, s'ajoute Claude 
Lorrain ; nous avons le paysage, plus lui ; Partiste ne change rien a ce 
qu'il voit ; mais il est present avec nous et dit a voix basse : Regarde. 
De meme, pour Shakespeare. Les artistes moindres (Shakespeare a ses 
mauvais moments) le disent a voix haute. 

Nul etre doue de sens ne visite ce temple consacre a la beaute 
artistique, avec ses innombrables recoins et chapelles, ou sont repre- 
sentes tous les temps et tous les pays, le Louvre, sans le quitter meilleur. 
L'acquis peut-etre de valeur infime ou de valeur immense ; sa realite 
est certaine. Des sources dormantes d'emotion desinteressee auron 
ete eveillees et auront coule de nouveau ; un cerveau fatigue aura 
trouve le repos ; des pensees ensommeillees seront sorties de torpeur 
et en auront procree d'autres. De meme, apres une visite a Shake 

Des bienfaiteurs prives ou 1'fitat offrent a la jeunesse studieuse les 
moyens de sejourner a Rome ou Athenes ou de faire le tour du monde. 
L'idee dirigeante est qu'ils reviendront plus forts, mieux armes pour la 
vie, ayant eu des occasions hors du commun pour voir, penser, reflechir, 
approvisionner leur esprit. De tels voyages nous sont offerts par 
Shakespeare autour de ce microcosme, plein de merveilles et pour lui 
sans secret, Tame et le coeur de rhomme. 

Son action sur les artistes et sur les masses durera : sur les masses 
parce qu'il leur est tellement accessible et que si, en raison de son genie, 


il atteignit aussi une tout autre region humaine, c'est cependant pour 
elles qu'il dcrivit ; sur les artistes, a cause de 1'exemple donne par lui de 
regarder en face toute realite, choisissant seulement ce qui la rend 
caracte*ristique, les traits fixant la ressemblance. Nous pourrions 
suivre pas a pas un Hamlet, une nourrice, un Falstaff de la vie reelle et 
noter chaque parole dite par eux, chaque attitude qu'ils auraient prise, 
et le portrait ressemblerait moins a la nature vivante que celui bien 
moins complet de Shakespeare. Savoir choisir est un don supe*rieur, 
c'est pour l'e*crivain sa maniere de dire a voix basse : Regarde. Shake 
speare, a son plus haut, murmure seulement le mot, que Ton entend 
sans le savoir. L 'artiste demeure egalement eloigne de la pedanterie de 
Tdcrivain savant qui ve*nere les regies parce qu 'elles sont acceptees, et 
du revoke qui les rejette toujours et en tout temps parce que ce sont 
des regies. 

Mais ne sont-ce la que des spectacles ? Et a quoi bon un spectacle 
de plus, si beau qu'il soit ? a dit, au cours des siecles, plus d'un penseur 
morose. A une question qu'il avait pose*e lui-meme, Emerson a fourni 
la re*ponse : * All high beauty has a moral element in it.' 





TOUT 1'art dramatique de Shakespeare, aussi bien que sa philosophic 
tole*rante, se resume dans le mot qu'il prete au roi Henri V : 

There is some soul of goodness in things evil. 

Sa vie d'auteur s'est employee a extraire * 1'essence de bien ' que rece- 
laient de vieilles pieces mediocres, une pietre mise en scene, des come- 
diens souvent recalcitrants, et un public a demi-barbare. 

Le clown existait avant que Shakespeare fut ne, et il poursuit 
aujourd'hui encore, dans les cirques, sur le devant des baraques foraines, 
son existence pareille. II fait les memes gestes, les memes grimaces. 
II a le meme accent, et debite presque intacts les memes calembours et 
calembredaines. II traverse le theatre de Shakespeare sans en etre. 


Tandis que les autres personnages sont censes ignorer le public, 
clown regarde le parterre ; c'est au parterre qu'il parle. 

Le clown penetre dans toutes les societe's et n'est d'aucune. Par- 
tout familier et partout etranger. Ge qu'il fait n'importe pas. Ce qu'il 
dit est sans consequence. II est impermeable a la realite. Caresse*, il 
plaisante ; injurie, menace, battu, il rit. Le danger et les coups n'ont 
rien pour 1'emouvoir. Peut-etre parce qu'il se sait immortel. Peut- 
etre parce qu'il n'existe pas. 

Le parterre n'a d'yeux et d'oreilles que pour le clown. II 1'attend 
avec impatience pendant les scenes graves. II trouve toujours sa 
venue trop tardive, son depart trop prompt. Quelle tentation pour le 
clown, chatouille par les rires, de rencherir sur ses quolibets et ses 
grimaces ! Le poete pese peu aupres du pitre. 




Pour un qui disait : * Je vais voir Le Marchand de Venise* cent 
s'e*criaient : * Aliens entendre le clown.' 

Difficile probleme : Conserver le clown pour que le public vienne ? 
Supprimer le clown pour que la piece vive ? 

Fixer au clown ses limites, ce fut une des taches les plus ardues de 
Shakespeare. II ne se defit pas de lui, aimant ses faceties et le sachant 
ne*cessaire. Petit a petit il 1'amadoua en lui procurant toutes pretes 
des droleries pareilles aux siennes et un peu meilleures. II 1'attira dans 
un role, et puis, poussant le verrou, 1'y enferma. II le fit servir a ses 
fins. Mais comme il ne pouvait tout de meme pas lui donner charge 
ou emploi regulier dans la vie, il le posta a cote d'elle avec mission de la 

juger en betisant. 


Deux ou trois fois pourtant Shakespeare fit tout de bon du clown 
un homme. II Phumanisa en lui accordant un metier et un caractere. 
II le deguisa mieux encore en lui otant la conscience de sa bouffonnerie. 
Au clown qui faisait rire de tout il substitua le clown qui fait a son insu 
rire de lui-meme. Bottom est certes un clown tres authentique, mais 
il est tisserand, suffisant et naif. II croit amuser par son esprit quand 
il divertit par sa betise. Et, parce qu'il est naturel, il a mlrite* d'etre 
promu a un role de premier plan. Le symbole du Songe d'une nuit 
ne repose-t-il pas sur la rencontre de Bottom et de Titania ? 

Tout a la fin de sa carriere Shakespeare ramena bel et bien le clown 
a sa condition primitive, avant qu'il fut devenu 1'amuseur professionnel. 
II 1'identifia avec le paysan balourd dont le clown portait le nom mais 
qu'il ne se souvenait plus guere d 'avoir etc*. Dans le Conte d'hiver le 
clown est fils d'un vieux berger. Et c'est un vrai gars de la campagne, 
epais et inge*nu. Le clown avait deserte* les champs pour les treteaux ; 
il rentrait enfin au bercail. 


II est a la fois tentant et desespe*rant de tracer le portrait d'un per- 
sonnage shakespearien. Autant definir le caractere des gens qui se 
meuvent autour de nous. La besogne ne serait guere plus malaisee. 


Et la difficulte vient en effet de ce que les personnages de Shakespeare 
vivent, de ce qu'ils bougent et qu'ils changent. 

Aussi sont-ils irreductibles a la simple logique. N'etant pas sortis 
d'une formule ils n'y peuvent point rentrer. Ils ne sont pas intelligibles 
toujours. Ils conservent des recoins obscurs ; ils ont des mysteres. 

Shakespeare lui-meme comprenait-il Hamlet ? L'horloger comprend 
la montre qu'il a faite. Le pere ne comprend pas 1'enfant qu'il a en- 
gen dre. Gentium nonfactum. 

Chansons, sonnets, distiques rime's, vers blancs, prose d 'ordinaire 
la raison pour laquelle Shakespeare emploie chacune de ces formes de 
style apparait aussitot. Et sans peine on devine pourquoi il passe de 
1'une a 1'autre. 

L'adolescent Romeo, avant qu'il n'ait fait sa mue, aime a border 
ses mignardises de jolies rimes. Mais, a mesure que 1'amour vrai 
1'^chauffe et le trempe, il rejette ces colifichets pour s'en tenir au seul 
rythme de la passion qui fait battre son cceur. 

Mais parfois on he*site. On se demande d'abord si la rime ne vient 
pas par caprice, la prose par lassitude ou negligence. Or, avec Shake 
speare, il est toujours sage de croire en lui et de douter de soi-meme. 

Quand nos oreilles gardent encore 1'echo des vers blancs od Othello 
clamait sa colere et sa douleur, comment se fait-il qu'il reparaisse ensuite, 
plus ravage et plus dechire, exhalant en simple prose le plus poignant 
peut-etre de tous ses gemissements : * But yet the pity of it, lago ! 
O lago ! the pity of it, lago ! ' 

Malheureux decrescendo, direz-vous ? La forme dechoit quand 
redouble le pathetique. Toutefois, si nous nous guidons, non sur la 
hierarchic officielle des styles mais sur 1'effet produit, n'est-il pas vrai 
que seule la prose pouvait rencherir encore, seule rendre le paroxysme ? 
II n'y a qu'elle pour rendre ce detraquement de 1'etre entier, cette 
supreme disorganisation des forces intimes, maintenant incapables de 
se soulever jusqu'au rythme, de s'ordonner en vers. Et justement 

D d 2 


parce que la prose n 'idealise pas, ne drape pas de beaute, elle nous met 
face a face avec la souff ranee. Plus de voile. C'est le coeur tout a nu. 

Et pourquoi ne recourt-elle presque jamais qu'a la prose, la Rosalinde 
si poe*tique et charmante de Comme il vous plaira ? C'est qu'on est mal 
a Taise pour babiller en vers. Nulle cadence re*guliere ne serait assez 
agile pour sa volubilite*. II est un degre* de prestesse oil le vers qui 
detaille trop les syllabes ne saurait atteindre. Le vers donnerait un air 
trop pre*medite aux improvisations impe"tueuses de la jeune fille. Le 
vers est une bride et Rosalinde doit avoir la langue de*bride*e. 


Le Brutus de Shakespeare harangue en syllogismes et monologue 

en metaphores. 

Le Brutus de Plutarque etait en somme un ide*aliste serein. Celui 
de Shakespeare est un idealiste qui se force. Le pathetique de sa 
destinee n'est a chercher ni dans sa lutte centre Ce*sar, ni dans sa defaite, 
ni dans sa mort, mais dans la continuelle pression de sa main sur son 
cceur. Ce stoi'que romain est enveloppe de moderne melancolie. 


1 Art avis'd of that ? ' * Ou done as-tu appris cela ? ' s 'eerie Lucio 
stupefait des arguments dont la jeune et pure Isabelle, cette demi-nonne, 
ignorante du monde qu'elle craint et qu'elle fuit, defend son frere 
Claudio coupable d 'avoir manque a la chastete. 

Elle-meme etait chaste jusqu 'a la froideur, stricte jusqu'a 1'etroitesse. 
Elle aspirait a la contrainte d'un couvent. Elle abominait les faiblesses 
de la chair. Elle reprouvait 1'indulgence du monde. Elle croyait 
naivement, profondement, a ce devoir de repression dont le juge de son 
frere, 1'hypocrite Angelo, couvre ses arrets impitoyables. Le code 
qu'il avait aux levres, elle le portait grave dans son coeur. 

Et la voici, plaidant pour la vie de Claudio, qui trouve un a un 
dans son ame angoissee les arguments de misericorde. Us jaillissent 
d'elle imprevus, 1'etonnant et 1'effrayant elle-meme. C'est une illu 
mination subite, une suite d 'eclairs qui lui devoilent les mensonges et 
les iniquites de ce monde. Elle monte du fond de sa cellule, degre par 
degre, jusqu'a decouvrir la loi nouvelle qui domine 1'ancienne. Un 
ciel plus spacieux et plus tendre s'etend maintenant sur sa tete. Elle 


est vraiment inspiree : une sagesse lui est soufflee d'en haut, du Christ 
mieux compris. Elle voit au dela de son intelligence ; elle sent au dela 
de sa sensibilite ; elle sait au dela de son experience. 

Et tout le temps c'est une femme avec une logique feminine, moins 
d'enchainement que d'intuition, eloquente par sursaut, arrivant a un 
sarcasme suraigu comme une crise de nerfs : * But now, proud man . . .' 

Shakespeare n'a rien ecrit d'aussi surprenant que cette scene. 

* * 

Shakespeare a pressenti notre neurasthenic quand il a cree le due 
Orsino, avec ses soudains enthousiasmes et ses non moins soudaines 
lassitudes. Le due est afflige de cette melancolie du me'lomane qui est 
entre toutes fantasque (fantastical). II n'appelle pas Pamour amour 
mais fantaisie. Ce grand seigneur de la Renaissance est peut-etre le 
premier des biases. II ne tolere que Pexquis de Pexquis, la fleur de la 
fleur. Viola elle-meme, son travesti ote, pourra-t-elle le retenir long- 
temps sous le charme ? 

Pour le seizieme siecle, le melancolique etait vraiment Patrabilaire. 
Son cas relevait du medecin ou du satirique. Shakespeare avait livre 
son Jacques-le-melancolique aux sarcasmes de Rosalinde. II etait 
reserve a George Sand de faire de ce melancolique un sage selon son 
cceur, et, ne pouvant Pepouser elle-meme, de le marier a la suave Celia. 


A mesure que se deroulent les dix actes des deux drames de Henri IV, 
Falstaff va perdant peu a peu, sinon sa verve, du moins sa fraicheur. 
On le sent imperceptiblement empirer et vieillir. Sa gaite de taverne, 
en rep6tant ses effets, devient moins irresistible. L'odeur du mauvais 
lieu s'y mele davantage. Les vices que recouvrait sa faconde se laissent 
de mieux en mieux voir a travers les fentes. 

Inevitable fatigue du createur ? Defaut commun a tous les chefs 
d'ceuvre qui ont une suite ? Peut-etre. Mais alors, quelle heureuse 
defaillance ! Le poete n'avait-il pas a montrer d'abord comment le 
jeune prince Henri avait pu, par richesse de nature, preferer la taverne 
a la Cour, la compagnie des mauvais sujets a celle des seigneurs ? Ensuite, 
comment il avait su repousser du pied ses camarades de cabaret pour 
s'elancer a la gloire ? 

Or, cet Henri etant le heros parfait, il fallait qu'on 1'admirat dans 



tous les cas, et de se debaucher et de se convertir. II fall ait que la 
seduction de Falstaff fut plus apparente au de'but, que le mauvais relent 
du personnage s'exhalat davantage avec le temps, que son esprit meme 
montrat a 1'occasion la corde. 


La nouvelle de Luigi da Porto sur Romlo et Juliette est simple, 
exigue, exquise. On est inquiet d'y voir toucher, fut-ce par un Shake 
speare. Et avouons qu'on avance loin dans le drame avant d'oublier 
cette inquietude. La fine pelouse lisse semble d'abord etre retourne'e 
a la sauvagerie. Voici les calembours et les concetti, 1'euphuisme et 
1'emphase ; voici des clowns et des precieux. Toute une broussaille 
qui irrite et rebute jusqu'au moment ou 1'incendie de la passion la gagne. 
Les pointes de Romeo, les grosses face* ties des serviteurs, les pataques 
de la nourrice, les ribauderies de Mercutio, autant d 'obstacles sur le 
chemin de la flamme. Mais un instant arretee, celle-ci fait de 1'obstacle 
son aliment. Elle grandit des impurete's memes qu'elle devore. 




PEU d'amis, peu de livres resistent a Tepreuve des jours que nous 
traversons. Les plus aimes trahissent, on ne les reconnait plus. 
C'etaient les compagnons des heures legeres. La bourrasque les em- 
porte, plantes a fleur de sol qu'arrache un coup de vent. II ne reste 
que les ames aux profondes racines. Beaucoup, d'humble apparence, 
a qui Ton ne prenait point garde dans la vie ordinaire. Et un petit 
nombre de hauts esprits, qui s'elevent comme des tours au milieu de 
la plaine et paraissent plus grands par-dessus tant de mines. Je re- 
trouve celui qui abrita tous les reves de ma vie, depuis mes jours d'en- 
fance, le vieux chene Shakespeare. Pas une de ses branches ne s'est 
brisee, pas un rameau ne s'est fletri ; et la tempete qui passe aujourd'hui 
sur le monde fait houler puissamment cette grande lyre vivante. 

Sa musique ne fait pas oublier les preoccupations du present. 
Quand on prete 1'oreille, on est surpris d 'entendre emerger peu a peu 
de cette mer bruissante les voix de notre temps, des pensees qui parais 
sent 1 'expression directe de nos jugements actuels sur les evenements 
qui nous oppriment. Sur la guerre et la paix, sur les precedes de la 
politique du xvi e et du xx* siecles, sur 1 'esprit d 'ambition et de ruse des 
fitats, sur 1'exploitation des plus nobles instincts, d'heroi'sme, de sacri 
fice, par 1'interet cache, sur le melange sacrilege des passions de haine 
avec les paroles de 1'fivangile, sur la participation des figlises et des 
Dieux aux tueries des peuples, sur les traites solennels qui ne sont que 
des * chiffons de papier ', sur le caractere des nations, des armees 
qui sont aux prises, je me suis plu a reunir une serie de pensees 
de Shakespeare qui, si elles etaient publiees sans son nom, risqueraient 
d'eveiller les susceptibilites de la censure de notre epoque libe'rale, plus 
chatouilleuse encore que celle de la reine filisabeth. Tant il est vrai 
qu'en depit des bouleversements du monde, tout est toujours le meme, 
et que si rhomme a trouve de nouveaux moyens de dominer et de tuer, 
il n'a pas change d'ame. 

Mais le bienfait unique de la lecture de Shakespeare est qu'on y 


goute la vertu la plus rare et dont on a le plus besoin, a cette heure : 
le don d'universelle sympathie, d'humanit^ pe*ne*trante, qui fait qu'on 
vit les ames des autres comme son ame propre. Certes, la foi, la 
grandeur, 1'exaltation de la vie et de toutes ses passions, ne manquent 
point, a notre e*poque ; et c'est ce qui la rapproche de la Renaissance 
anglaise ou italienne, bien qu'a la difference et a 1'avantage de celle-ci 
on ne trouve en notre temps aucune de ces personnalites sans mesure dans 
le bien ou dans le mal, qui dominent la foule ; aujourd'hui, la grandeur 
est diffuse pour ainsi dire, collective plus qu'individuelle ; et, dans 
rOce*an humain souleve* tout d'une masse, a peine si une vague 
s'e*leve au-dessus des autres. Mais la principale difference n'est point 
la ; elle est que ce spectacle e*pique manque d'un spectateur. Aucun 
ceil n'embrasse 1 'ensemble de la tempete. Pas un coeur n'epouse les 
angoisses, les fureurs, les passions oppose* es de ces vagues qui se heurtent, 
de ces barques qui se brisent, de ces naufrage*s sur qui le gouffre de la 
mer entr'ouvert se referme. Chacun reste mure* en soi et avec les siens. 
C'est pourquoi Ton e*prouve, a rouvrir un volume de Shakespeare, un 
soulagement et une delivrance. II semble qu'au milieu d'une nuit 
lourde, dans une chambre close, le vent force la fenetre et fasse entrer 
les souffles de la terre. 


La grande ame fraternelle ! Elle se charge de toutes les joies et de 
toutes les douleurs de 1'univers. Non seulement elle se donne avec 
enivrement a la jeunesse, a 1 'amour, a la douceur brulante des passions 
printanieres : Juliette et Miranda, Perdita, Imogene . . . Non seulement 
elle n'est pas comme ces amis qui s'eclipsent, aux heures de la peine, pro- 
fessant 1 'opinion du vieux seigneur Lafeu, qu' * un chagrin excessif est 
1'ennemi de ceux qui vivent J l ; mais elle reste fidelement, affectueuse- 
ment a leurs cotes, pour partager le poids de leurs erreurs, de leurs 
miseres et de leurs crimes : apres avoir pleure* la mort de Desdemone, 
il lui reste des larmes pour son meurtrier, plus pitoyable encore. Elle 
se sent plus proche des plus miserables, et ne se refuse meme point aux 
plus mauvais : ils sont homines comme nous ; ils ont des yeux comme 
nous, des sens, des affections, des passions comme nous, ils saignent 
comme nous, ils rient et pleurent comme nous, ils meurent comme 
nous. 2 Et, dit frere Laurent, ' dans tout ce qui croit sur la terre, il 
n'est rien de si vil qui ne contienne quelque chose de bon ; il n'est rien 
de si bon qui, de*tourne* de son normal usage, ne puisse devenir mauvais.' 8 

1 Tout est bien quifinit bien, I. i. 2 Marchand de Venise, III. i. 

3 Romeo et Juliette, II. iii. 


L 'intelligence et le coeur de Shakespeare s'unissent en un egal besoin 
pour penetrer les ames. Son instinct de justice se complete d'un 
instinct d 'amour. Dans Le Marchand de Venise, Shy lock et Antonio 
exposent tour a tour les raisons de la haine du Juif pour le marchand 
chretien. 1 Chacun parle sincerement, et chacun donne pourtant des 
raisons differentes. C'est que tous deux voient et font voir la meme 
chose, d'un angle different. Ainsi precede 1 'esprit createur de 
Shakespeare. Sans effort, il se place au coeur de chaque personnage ; il 
revet sa pensee et sa forme et son petit univers ; jamais il ne le voit du 
dehors. Et si toutefois il verse avec predilection le tresor de sa riche 
sympathie dans certains de ses heros, dans les enfants de ses reves les 
plus beaux ou les plus forts, il est comme un bon pere : a 1'heure de 
Pepreuve, les moins aimes lui deviennent aussi chers. L'ambitieux 
Wolsey, 1'hypocrite, le chat-fourre, a peine est-il disgracie, prend une 
grandeur antique ; il voit subitement la misere de ses de*sirs, et, dans 
les decombres de sa gloire, ' il n'a jamais ete aussi heureux ' 2 : ses yeux 
s'ouvrent, le malheur l'a * gueri ' ; et ce dur egoi'ste, consolant son ami 
qui pleure, lui laisse pour testament de sa vie orgueilleuse la plus 
sainte des paroles : ' Cheris les coeurs qui te hai'ssent.' 2 Le tyran 
Leontes, sous 1'ecroulement de son bonheur, que lui-meme a mine 
par sa criminelle et furieuse folie, devient soudain sacre, meme a Pauline 
qui le flagelle des plus sanglantes verites. 3 La mort, qui fait s'incliner 
devant les corps de Brutus et de Cassius, d'Antoine, de Coriolan, 
leurs irreconciliables ennemis, transfigure Cleopatre a ses derniers 
moments, et rend meme quelque noblesse au vil Edmond du Roi Lear. 
C'est merveille de voir comment, devant la misere et devant la mort, 
le grand cceur du poete se depouille d'orgueil, de rancune, de passion 
egoi'ste, pour embrasser dans son immense pitie tous ceux qui souf- 
frent ennemis, rivaux, qu'importe ? freres dans la douleur. Un 
des traits les plus touchants de cette humanite est Tacte de Romeo, 
qui venant pour mourir aupres de Juliette morte, et, provoque par son 
rival Paris, Tayant tue malgre lui, le couche dans le tombeau de 
Juliette, a ses cotes : 

Donne-moi la main, 6 toi dont le nom a ete ecrit comme le mien sur le triste 
livre de Tadversite! 

Et quand Hamlet torture de ses cruelles paroles sa mere criminelle, 
Shakespeare, incapable d'arreter remportement de son heros en lui 

1 Marchand de Venise, I. iii ; III. i. 2 Henry VIII, in. ii. 

3 Conte d'hiver, III. ii. 


pretant une pitie que Hamlet ne ressent point, inspire cette pitie au 
spectre du roi assassine, qui vient, avec un accent d'emouvante bonte, 
au secours de la femme accablee : 

L'accablement ecrase ta m&re. Tiens-toi entre elle et son ame qui lutte ! Songe que 
dans les corps les plus faibles 1'imagination agit le plus fortement. Parle-lui. 1 

Cette commune pitie est telle un pont jete sur le fosse* qui se'pare 
les individus et les classes. Elle rapproche les mains des riches et des 
pauvres, des maitres et des serviteurs. Bien que Shakespeare se classe 
plutot, en politique, parmi les aristocrat es meprisants de la foule 
(Nulle satire plus sanglante des revolutions populaires que la Jacquerie 
de Cade 2 ; et Coriolan est un prototype de YUebermensch de Nietzsche) 
son cceur a pour les humbles des intuitions de tendresse delicate ; 
et cette delicatesse de sensibilite*, il la leur prete souvent. Parmi tant 
d'doquents discours des grands personnages remains, au Capitole, qui 
est le seul a pleurer sur le corps de Cesar assassine ? Un esclave inconnu, 
un serviteur d 'Octave, qui vient porter un message a Antoine et qui, 
voyant le heros egorge, s'arrete suffoque au milieu de son recit : 
* ... Oh ! Cesar ! . . . ' va a 1'ecart et sanglote. 3 Qui ose prendre la 
defense de Glocester torture par Regane et Cornouailles ? Un serviteur 
de Cornouailles, qui tire Tepee contre son maitre ; et d'autres serviteurs 
accueillent le vieillard aveugle et pansent sa face ensanglantee. 4 
Hamlet est protege contre la haine peureuse du roi par I'amour du 
peuple, dont il est Tidole, 5 ce peuple qui, plus clairvoyant que le 
faible Henry VI, reste fidele au loyal due Humphreys, meme apres sa 
disgrace, et qui, a la nouvelle de son assassinat, se souleve, brise les portes 
du palais, et impose 1'exil du meurtrier Suffolk. 6 Le vieil Adam se fait 
le compagnon de misere de son jeune maitre Orlando ; et le jeune 
maitre, a son tour, le porte sur ses epaules, lui cherche de la nourriture, 
refuse de manger avant lui. 7 Le proconsul Antoine, a la veille du 
combat decisif, appelle ses serviteurs et leur parle comme un frere ; 
il voudrait pouvoir les servir a son tour, aussi bien qu'il a etc servi par 
eux ; et la douceur de ses paroles leur arrache des larmes. 8 Faut-il 
rappeler encore Timon, mine, que ses amis trahissent, a Texception 
de ses seuls serviteurs qui, disperses par le sort, ' demeurent unis en 
Timon ' ? 9 Mais c'est dans le Roi Lear que cette divine phie* a ses 
accents les plus profonds. Le vieux tyran, fou d'orgueil et d'egoi'sme, 

1 Hamlet, III. iv. 2 Henry VI, deuxieme partie, IV. 3 Jules Char, III. i. 

4 Roi Lear, III. vii. 5 Hamlet, IV. iii. 6 Deuxieme partie de Henry VI, III. ii. 

7 Comme il vous plaira, II. iii, vi, vii. 8 Antoine et CUopAtre^ IV. ii. 

9 Timon (TAthenes, IV, 2. 


sous les premiers coups du malheur, commence a ressentir la souffrance 
des autres. Dans la tempete qui rugit sur la lande deserte, il s'apitoie 
sur son fou qui grelotte ; et peu a peu, il decouvre 1'universelle 
misere : 

Pauvres miserables tout nus, ou que vous soyez, vous qui souffrez de 1'assaut de cette 
impitoyable tempete, comment avec vos tetes sans abri, vos estomacs sans nourriture, vos 
guenilles trouees, percees a jour, pourrez-vous lutter centre un orage comme celui-ci ! . . . 
Je m'en suis trop peu soucie. . . . Luxe, essaie du remede ! Supporte les memes maux que 
la misere, tu apprendras ainsi a la faire profiler de ton superflu, et les cieux en seront moins 
injustes. 1 

Cette tendresse humaine, qui affleure comme un flot tout au long 
de Toeuvre de Shakespeare, est peut-etre ce qui la distingue le plus des 
autres oeuvres dramatiques de son temps. Elle est sa marque, elle 
lui est un besoin ; il ne peut s'en passer. Meme dans les sujets qui 
la comportent le moins, il faut qu'il lui fasse une place. Au coeur du 
dur Coriolan, ce drame barde de fer, qui marche dans Torgueil et 
le sang, fleurit la douce Virgilie, * le gracieux Silence '. 2 Et de Portia 
la stoi'que, la fille de Caton, il a fait Portia humaine, faible, femme, 
fievreuse, qui attend, devoree d'angoisse, Tissue de la conspiration. 3 
Shakespeare, pas plus que Montaigne, n'est dupe du stoicisme ; pour 
lui, c'est une armure qui cache le vrai coeur. Et quelle emouvante 
douceur, lorsque Farmure se brise et que Tamour jaillit, comme dans la 
fameuse scene de la reconciliation de Brutus et de Cassius, qui est le 
joyau de la piece ! 4 Le coeur est si gonfle de la tendresse qui 
I'emplit que Ton sent que les larmes sont pretes a couler ; mais 
une pudeur les retient et donne a Temotion une beaute supreme. 
Ce n'est que par un recit que nous voyons ce heros de Tamitie, Tenig- 
matique Antonio, Thomme riche, heureux aux yeux du monde, mais 
ronge d'une mysterieuse tristesse et qui ne semble vivre que par son 
amour pour son ami, livrer le secret de ce coeur aimant et souffrant, 
dans la scene d'adieux ou, * les yeux pleins de larmes, detournant son 
visage, il tend la main par derriere a Bassanio, et lui donne une etreinte 
silencieuse. 5 Silence plus saisissant encore, quand c'est celui d'un 
enfant, comme le petit Mamillius, petit Dombey plus tragique, qui 
ne mange plus, qui ne dort plus, qui s'etiole et qui meurt, de la honte de 

sa mere. 6 

Meme au dela des hommes, cette pitie s'etend a la nature. 
Le due exile, dans Comme il vous plaira, ecoute la voix des arbres, lit 

1 Roi Lear, ill. iv. 2 Coriolan, II. i. 3 Jules Cdsar, n. iv. 

4 Ibid., iv. iii. 5 Marchand de Venise, II. viii. 6 Conte d'hiver, II. iii ; III. ii. 


le livre des ruisseaux, scrute la morale des pierres. Et Jacques-le- 
me'lancolique pleure sur un cerf bless6 qui agonise. 1 

Ainsi, le ge*nie du poete soude les anneaux de la chaine qui relie 
entre eux tous les etres. Et rien ne vibre en un d'eux qui ne se propage 
a travers tous : car tout nous est commun, et c'est nous que nous 
retrouvons, a chaque page de cette tragi-come'die de Punivers. 

Mais, tandis que nous prenons notre part de toutes joies et de 
toutes peines, tandis que nous aidons chaque ame a porter sa croix, 
elles nous aident a porter la notre. * Quand nous voyons un superieur 
partager nos miseres,' dit Edgar dans le Rot Lear y ' c'est a peine si nos 
miseres semblent encore nos ennemies. Celui qui souffre seul souffre 
surtout d 'esprit, en songeant au bonheur qu'il laisse derriere lui. Mais 
1'esprit oublie ses souffrances, quand le chagrin a des compagnons et 
que I'amitie' le console.' 2 Les rancunes memes s'effacent. Le spectacle 
de Tinjustice n'incite pas au desir de la reparer par une injustice sem- 
blable. Et le dernier mot, le chant qui plane sur les ultimes accords 
de cette symphonic, est celui que TEsprit lumineux de TAir, qu'Ariel 
inspire a Prospero : 

Le pardon est au-dessus de la vengeance. 3 

Janvier 1916. 

1 Comme ilvous platra, II. i. 2 Roi Lear, III. vi. 3 La Tempete, v. i. 

P. VILLEY 417 


Au xvin^ rae siecle Capell a signale qu'un passage de La Temp$te 
est imite de 1'essai des Cannibales. Les mots de Shakespeare sont les 
mots memes de Florio, le traducteur anglais des Essais. Des lors la 
question etait posee des rapports de Montaigne et de Shakespeare. 

C 'etait une question tres delicate, comme le sont tant de problemes 
d 'influence. Un jour vint ou la science allemande s'en mela, et tout 
se simplifia. Depuis ce jour-la, qui date de moins d'un demi-siecle, 
jetez les yeux sur une bibliographic : vous verrez combien d 'etudes lui 
ont ete consacrees, articles, brochures, et jusqu'a un livre deux fois 
imprime. A en parcourir les conclusions, les solutions qu'elles appor- 
tent reposent sur les methodes les plus sures, et jettent la plus vive 
lumiere sur la formation intellectuelle de Shakespeare. 

On s'est ingenie a etablir entre les textes des deux ecrivains des 
rapprochements qui devaient manif ester avec evidence 1 'influence des 
Essais. On s'en est fait une sorte de sport, et quoique ce sport-la fut 
tout germanique, il n'a pas manque d 'avoir ses fanatiques en Angleterre 
et jusqu'en Amerique. Tout ce qui venait d'Allemagne etait bien 
accueilli. Chacun tenant a honneur d'encherir sur son devancier, vite 
cette chasse aux rapprochements a ete merveilleusement productive. 
On intimidait la critique avec le nombre fantastique de textes paralleles 
qu'on alignait. A mesure que ce nombre grandissait, les theories qu'on 
batissait sur eux se faisaient de plus en plus hardies. Stedefeld, en 1871 , 
nous disait deja que, dans le personnage d 'Hamlet, Shakespeare avait 
voulu representer Montaigne, et que la piece entiere etait une critique 
de son scepticisme. En 1884 Jacob Feis affirmait que Shakespeare 
s 'etait propose de prendre parti contre la philosophic de la nature 
prechee par Montaigne. Enfin, en 1897, M. Robertson est alle jusqu'a 
pretendre que tout ce qui fait la grandeur de Shakespeare, pensee et 
style, est du a 1'influence de Montaigne, et que, si a 1'aurore du xvn 5me 
siecle son genie dramatique a pris un si magnifique essor, c'est a la 
rencontre des Essais que nous le devons. 


Je crains, he* las ! que ce magnifique Edifice, construit au prix de 
tant de patience, ne repose sur le sable. Une a une j'ai examine les 
similitudes signale'es par les auteurs que je viens de citer, et encore celles 
de Henry Morley, de Miss Elisabeth Robins Hooker, de Miss Grace 
Norton, a laquelle nous devons de si solides etudes sur Montaigne, de 
Herr Kellner. A la fin, quand j'ai ferme la main pour saisir mon butin, 
elle etait vide. Dans tous ces rapprochements je ne trouve que des 
coincidences de pensee, nullement des emprunts, et, sauf peut-etre 
pour deux ou trois passages de Hamlet au sujet desquels on peut hesiter, 
pas meme des reminiscences. Leur nombre fait impression. Craignons 
que cette impression ne nous egare : cent zeros additionnes ensemble 
ne font toujours que ze*ro. La parcelle de vraisemblance que comporte 
chacun de ces rapprochements est si infime, qu'a les totaliser, si Tem- 
prunt signale par Capell n 'etait pas la, je n'aurais pas meme de quoi 
affirmer que Shakespeare a lu Montaigne. 

Un gros volume serait necessaire, un volume de discussions sur des 
pointes d 'aiguilles, pour faire la critique de chacun des textes allegues. 
II suffira d'indiquer les causes d'erreur qui ont vicie toute cette enquete. 
J'en trouve trois principales. Ces rapprochements portent ou sur des 
idees et des faits qui peuvent venir a Shakespeare d'e*crivains autres 
que Montaigne, des anciens en particulier ; ou bien sur des lieux 
communs de tous les temps ; ou bien sur des opinions qui nous pa- 
raissent aujourd 'hui singulieres , mais qui alors etaient banales . Imaginez 
le cas de deux ecrivains contemporains qui doivent inevitablement au 
milieu intellectuel ou ils se sont formes certaines idees communes ; 
supposez-les tres penetres Tun et Tautre des ecrivains et des moralistes 
de 1'antiquite, specialement de Plutarque qui est le maitre de tout le 
monde au xvi feme siecle ; supposez enfin que Tun et 1'autre, chacun a sa 
maniere, sont occupes presque exclusivement de ces eternels sujets que 
sont la misere humaine, les malheurs qui assaillent la vie, la mort, la vertu 
et le vice, la coutume, etc., ne serait-il pas surprenant qu'ils ne vinssent 
pas a se rencontrer quelquefois dans 1 'expression d'une meme pensee ? 

Des dernieres pieces de Shakespeare, celles qui sont contemporaines 
de La Tempfre, on a porte 1'enquete dans celles qui sont anterieures a la 
publication de Florio. Naturellement dans celles-la aussi on a trouve 
du Montaigne. * Ne vous en e*tonnez pas/ a re'plique' M. Robertson, pour 
qui Shakespeare, ignorant le francais, a re$u de la traduction anglaise 
vers 1602 Timpulsion soudaine qui 1'a hausse jusqu'au drame de Hamlet : 
' Shakespeare par Ben Jonson a du connaitre Florio, il a pu lire son 
oeuvre en manuscrit.' Et la re'plique etait recevable. Mais on est 



remonte alors jusqu'a des pieces plus anciennes encore, jusqu'au Mar- 
chand de Venue ^ aux Gentilshommes de Verone, et a Romeo et Juliette. 
Et la encore on a trouve du Montaigne. Force fut de supposer hypo- 
these aventureuse que Shakespeare avait connu les Essais dans le 
texte frangais. La methode se retournait centre les conclusions qu'on 
en avait tirees, d'une revelation brusque apportee a un Shakespeare peu 
cultive et d'ou serait sorti son grand drame philosophique. Est-il 
besoin d'ajouter, d'ailleurs, que les listes de rapprochements different 
d'auteur a auteur, manifestant ainsi leur caractere arbitraire ? 

II eut fallu ne retenir que des passages de Montaigne qui se fussent 
recommandes par quelque chose de personnel, soit dans la pensee, soit 
dans 1'expression. En presence de ce monde prodigieux d'idees que 
remue 1'ceuvre de Shakespeare, on demeure stupefait a la pensee que 
des critiques pretendent assigner une source livresque determinee a des 
remarques insignifiantes. Car cela implique une singuliere idee de 
Shakespeare, et, pour la commodite de 1'enquete, pour trouver dans 
chaque rencontre une marque d 'influence, inconsciemment le plus 
sou vent, on en vient a poser un etrange postulat : relisez ces rapproche 
ments, on dirait que, avec les litteratures grecque et latine, meme les 
ouvrages des moralistes anciens etaient inconnus a Shakespeare ; on 
dirait qu'il etait prive de toute culture, presque de toute idee. II ne 
lui est meme pas permis d'ecrire, fut-ce en passant, que la force de la 
coutume est grande, ou que la vertu est belle, ou que la vie est pleine de 
miseres, sans qu'un erudit coure aussitot chercher dans les Essais un 
texte parallele. 

Cette methode ruineuse est done encore, sans le savoir, injurieuse 
a la memoire de Shakespeare. J'avoue que les critiques qu'on adresse 
en ce moment a la science allemande ne vont pas quelquefois sans 
m'inquieter. Quelquefois on semble faire bon marche des methodes 
precises qui sont de tous les pays, et que toute verite est toujours bonne 
a dire 1'Allemagne nous a aides a mieux pratiquer. Ce que nous 
repudions, c'est leur deformation. Ce n'est pas la recherche des sources, 
qui n'est pas moins fran9aise qu 'allemande quand elle est judicieuse, 
et qui s'est revelee si feconde ; c'est sa parodie. Elle se caracterise par 
ceci qu'au travail de 1 'esprit de finesse elle substitue une sorte de 
mecanisme. Elle se met ainsi a la portee de tout le monde, et c'est ce 
qui rend sa contagion si redoutable. A la question : quelle est 1 'influ 
ence de Montaigne sur Shakespeare ? insensiblement elle a substitue 
cette autre question : quelles ressemblances verbales peut-on relever 
entre Montaigne et Shakespeare ? Et, apres quarante ans d 'efforts, un 


beau jour, on s'apersoit qu'on a travaille dans le vide, et qu'on n'est 
pas plus avance qu'au depart. 

Mon dessein n'est pas d'apporter une solution a mon tour, d'opposer 
hypothese a hypothese. J'ai voulu seulement ramener le probleme 
a ses donne'es. II se pose a peu de chose pres de la meme maniere qu'au 
lendemain de la decouverte de Capell. Meme le seul progres obtenu 
consiste en ce que nous ne pouvons plus esperer que d'autres emprunts 
certains viendront se joindre a celui de Capell : la ou des erudits si 
patients ont echoue il n'y a plus d'espoir de reussir. 

Cette constatation previendra le retour a des exagerations dans 
lesquelles on est tombe, car il y a dans 1'ceuvre de Shakespeare des 
emprunts si caracte'rise's a certains ouvrages, au Plutarque de North par 
exemple, qu'assure'ment 1 'influence de Montaigne se serait trahie a bien 
des signes si elle avait ete aussi profonde, aussi decisive qu'on 1'a dit. 

En revanche, nous savons maintenant combien le public anglais 
a etc* frappe en 1603 par la publication des Essais dans la traduction de 
Florio. Nous savons qu'en 1607 et peut-etre des 1605 Ben Jonson, 
dans son Volpone, de*noncait les plagiats dont ils etaient 1'objet, qu'autour 
de Shakespeare Marston et Webster en transportaient des phrases 
nullement de*guisees sur la scene. Surtout nous voyons clairement les 
raisons qui ont pu recommander a Shakespeare, comme a Webster, 
a Marston et aux autres dramatistes du temps, la lecture des Essais. 
Montaigne etait le guide le plus sur qu'on put avoir alors pour explorer 
le moi, et par le moi pour connaitre l'homme ; il avait, non pas seulement 
vulgarise, mais revivifie de sa baguette magique la sagesse antique avec 
le prodigieux tresor de reflexions morales qu'elle comporte, retrempe 
en pleine experience tant d 'opinions philosophiques qu'il avait * cou- 
chees ' sur sa vie et comme * essayees ' a 1 'usage des contemporains ; 
enfin il avait ranime 1'histoire, ressuscite les hommes du passe en pro- 
jetant son ame dans la leur, et ainsi prepare la matiere historique pour la 
scene mieux qu'aucun livre d'histoire jusqu 'alors ecrit en France ou 
en Angleterre. Le drame psychologique, le drame philosophique, 
le drame historique pouvaient profiter grandement de ses Ie9ons. Voila 
des faits qu'aucune hypothese ne doit negliger. 

Certes j'aimerais que la France put revendiquer, dans la formation 
du ge*nie de Shakespeare, la part du Hon que lui attribue M. Robertson. 
Plus modeste, celle qui lui revient sans doute, et qui depasse d'ailleurs 
1'influence de Montaigne, est encore glorieuse. 



L'ORGUEIL, Pambition, la luxure, la haine 
Taciturne qui rampe et bondit tour a tour ; 
Tout Pheroi'sme, tout le reve, tout Pamour ; 
Ce qui pleure, s 'exalte ou rit dans Pame humaine ; 

Le louche envie et qui, de la dent, mord sa chaine, 
La ruse au pas secret, la colere au poing lourd ; 
Le sceptre, le poignard, la torche, le tambour, 
Et la face danoise et la face africaine ! 

Tout cela : rois, heros, amants, les fous, les sages, 
Palpite dans ton drame aux mille visages, 
Chacun peint en sa vie et sa diversite. 

Sur Phomme tout entier s'etend ton vaste empire, 

Formidable et divin d'etre la verite, 

Ou tu regnes, parmi les Passions, Shakespeare ! 






Tovs "EXA/ty^a? ri^as [tayevei KCLI Behyet, TOV Betov 
rj fjbeya\o<f>via y TO ityos TO>V 8iavorj/j,aTO>v , TO /caAAo? TTJS <j>pao-ea)S 
Tinas, A.eyG>, I8i<os TOV$ CTTC Trj airayye^ia TCOV o-Ti%a)v avTOv JAOVOVOVK 
aicovovTas ^tw TTKrryv rrjs (/MOVTJS T*V /Aeyakcov rrjs ' 
Koi 8paju,aTOVpya>v. At rpaywdlat, avrov, airo 

vyici.vov(Tt,v rf^a? ov%i aaBeve&Tepov rov 

TO>V SpajAdTtov TOV Ai&xvkov, TrXypovcrat, ovrco rov (TKOTTOV a 
eicelvov ov eBero b ' ApLcrroreX.7j<; opov TTJS rpaycoStas TTJV 
TCOV TraBrjfJbaTtov " . 'Ez^ rots Spajmacrw avrov avayvtopi^ofiev 
em Aefe6 TOV H^ovTap^ov TO, ao(f>a SiSdyjuLaTa, rjpfjujjvev^va eVa- 
ywyoTepov rj ev Trj jut,Ta(f)pao~i, TOV NutpB, TJV ffeffatcos ?% Trpo 
6<f)0ak/j,a>v ypa(f>a>v o ITo^T^?. *E7refc5i7, el KCLI 
Trj? AaTiviSos yvSxnVy KCU rjTTOva Trjs 

CK ffrvo-ccos TO 7rvv/j,aTt,Kov cicelvo Swpov, TO KaBiaTtoV TO 
TOV vov Kol TTJV GvyeveiCiv TT)$ V rt/ ^ ? KOLVOV 
K\fjpov TUIV ae/TTore KCU airavTa^ov fJueyaX.a)v avSp&v. 'AAAa 
TOV 'Q/Juypov TO vTrepavOpcoTTOv o-%eoov fj,eya\.eLOV avafyaivGTai, kv 
TOLS (TTI^OI^ avTOVy /3a7rTio~BevTO$ avafjb<piftoX.(i)$ ei$ TO, vapaTa TTJS 
Betas eTTOTTOua?, %apis Trj fjueTa<ppao-ei TOV T<ra7r/az>. 

ev TCO 2a/cecT7r^/)ft) ft\.e7rojJiev fjbuav eTi y KOI TavTtjv 
crcp Trjs TavTOTfjTOS TU*V i8ea>v, TMV ^v)(iK(^v poircov 
v IBaviK&v Ttov Svo rjfjutov eBv&v, aTiva cnro Trp&Trjs avT&v 
rjytovLo-Brjo-av a/ca/^ara)? ^TjTOvvTa TIJV apeTTjv ev Tracrt, 8ia- 
TOP TrokiTio-juisOv, Kai vTTepa^vvo^eva TTJS eKevBepias. 
o Kai Trapa TTJV aTrapafuXXov rjfjb&v faX.oKoyucrjv Kkrjpovofiiav, 
v T*V TrpwTcov y^ere^oyLte^ KOC rjfjbels ol v EAA?;//e9 TTJS \JSVXIKTJ? 


THE genius, the loftiness of thought, the beauty of language of the 
divine Shakespeare hearten and charm us Greeks us especially who 
at the delivery of his verses all but listen to the echo of the very voice of 
the great poets and dramatists of Greece. His tragedies, when repre 
sented on the stage, move us not less powerfully than the grandeur of 
Aeschylian dramas, thus truly fulfilling that purpose of tragedy which 
Aristotle has defined to be the purgation of the emotions. In some of his 
dramas we recognize almost textually the wise teachings of Plutarch, 
interpreted in a style more alluring than North's translation, which the 
Poet assuredly had before him when writing. For although it is said 
of him that * he had small Latin and less Greek,' yet he was endowed by 
nature with that spiritual gift which makes loftiness of mind and noble 
ness of soul the heritage of great men of all times and of all countries. 
Even Homer's almost superhuman grandeur reappears in his verse ; 
for he undoubtedly was baptized in the spring waters of the divine epic, 
thanks to Chapman's version. 

We thus see in Shakespeare one more, and that a glorious, mani 
festation of the identity of thought, soul tendencies, and striven-for 
ideals of our two nations, which, from their very beginnings, have 
endeavoured persistently for virtue in all things, have diffused 
civilization, and have struggled in defence of liberty. 

It is on this account that, notwithstanding our incomparable literary 
heritage, we Greeks are among the foremost in participating in the 




Tre<t>a)Tio~fJt,Voi,s dvBpu>Tcoi$ ra epya TOV yiyavros TOVTOV TOV veai- 
repov Koa-fJLov. Tutu Se Tj/jLerepcov ol dyyh.ofjuadels ecrrrevaav va 
7r\ovTi(ra)(rt, rrjv xaB' ri^as ypdfjifj,dTO\.oyidv fjue 


Ttov 7rapa0TO) Karahoyov Trfajpr], apria)? OUTTO) 
vrdy avrov vTroX.afJbftava)v api&Tov <f>opov TOV rj^erepov 

, Ka6* TJV o)pav eopTa^GTdi rj ajro TOV davaTov dVTOV 

TpLTTTJ GKdTOVTdeTtlpLS. *}LopTa^Tdi V KdlpOl? 

ap%r)v Kdl TTJV TpayLKtoTaTrjv e^eki^iv povos e/ceZz/o? Bd 
v ava7rapdo~T7]o-r) 7n,o~TO)s. 

i. r. 


H TPIKTMIA, Spa/^a Oui'XteXftov 2<uK(77n7/D, ^eTa^atrts 'I. IToXuXa, 

KepKvpa, 1855. ^ v "' 94 + e/ - ( e>1/ ^-oya) TTC^W, /cat /zero, " McXeTTy?" eV reXet.) 
IOTAIO2 KAI^AP, rpaywSta ts TreWe Trpa^eis TOV ITOLTJTOV 'SaLKormjpov, CK TOV 

'AyyXtKov /ci/AeVou ets rr)v 'EXX^i/i/op /xeTayXwrr to- 0elcra VTTO Ni/coXaov 

K. 'Icui/iSov. 'ABilvycrL, 1858. 8", a. 124. 
AMAETOS, Bao-iXorrats TTJS Aavta?, rpayajSta TOV *AyyXov Sat^TT^pov, ei/aTtx^? /ACTa- 

<j>pa.cr0io'a VTTO 'iwdWov II. IIe/)/8avoyXov. *E^ 'A^i'ats, 1858. 8", o~. e' + 

AMAETOS, T/oaywSta ..... /xeTa^pacr Cetera VTTO 'I. II. HcpftavoyXov, Kal Sevrcpov 

e/cSo^tcra VTTO 'itodvvov A. Mai/wXiy. *E^ Kwi'o-Tai^n^ovTrdXet, 1874. 8", 

<r. f?+ 244. 
O MAKBE, T/>aya>8ta ets Trpa^ets TreWe, /xeTa^/jacr^etaa VTTO N. I. K., ^ irpoo'T0'r) 

Kal Pioypacfria TOV TTOI^TOV. *Ev *A^i/at?, 1862. 8", tr. xvi + 88. 
2AIKSHHPOT O BASIAET2 AHP, /xeXeVg 2. N. Bao-iXeiaS^, Si/ojyopov. 'Ei/ 

'A^Vats, 1870. 8 OV , a-. 30. 
PflMAIOS KAI IOTAIA, 8/oa/xa ets Tr/aa^cts TreWe, VTTO Sat/ccrTTT/yoov, fj,eTa<j>pa<r0i' 

VTTO A. F. S/caXiSov /cat e/c8o#ez/ SaTra^ats E. Aa/xt/ia8ov. *Ez/ 'A^vats, 1873. 

8^, o-. 144. 

O O0EAAOS (ev cTrt^vXXtSt " <E>tXo/caXov ^vpvatov", ev ^iLvpvy, 1873 ?). 
O KTMBEAINO2, ftcXeny eVl TOV 8pa/x,aTos TOV Sai/coTnfpov, VTTO K. F. HcVov. (ei^ 

<vXXa8. 9 TOV " Bvpwyos ", cV *A^Vat9, 1874, 8 OK , cr. 664-675.) 


intellectual enjoyment and profit which the works of this giant of the 
modern world offer to all enlightened men. 

It is for this reason that those of us learned in the English tongue 
have not been slow in enriching our modern literature with translations 
of his masterpieces. 

/Of these I append a catalogue, never before fully published, esteem 
ing their record to be the most fitting tribute of our admiration and love, 
on the celebration of the tercentenary of his death. 

It is celebrated in circumstances the dire beginnings and the tragic 
development of which he alone could have recorded adequately. 


TA AIIANTA TOT 2AKE2IIHPOT ^T ei/coW, VTTO 'AXeav8yoov Mev/uap. (ev 
napapTijiJiaTL rrjs " 'E0vi/cf?9 'ETTt^eoo^crews ", Ila/Hcrtois, 1875. 'E^SoOij ovrat 
jao'vov O MAKBE6, Kal juepo? TOV AMAETOT.) 

META$PA2EI2 AHMHTPIOT BIKEAA, e/x/x,er/>&>5, Kal /xera cnj^eiwcrecov. 2a/ce- 
CK TOV 'AyyXt/cov peTa^pacrdeicrai. 'Ev 'A^-xjvaig, 1876. 8", cr. te' 

MAKBE. 'Ev 'A^Vats, 1882. 8 OV , <r. 158. 

AMAETOS. 'Ei/ 'A^Vats, 1 882. 8", cr. ft + 2 1 3. 

O EMTIOPO2 TH2 BENETIAS, KwjawSta. 'Ev 'A0ijwus, 1884. S ov , v. $ + 143. 
(Aevrcpat Kal T/3trat e/cSocrets, 189697. 8" jJiiKp.) 

IOTAIOS KAI^AP. T/aaywSta ct? TT/oa^et? TreWe /Aera<^oacr#ercra e/c T% 'AyyXtK:^? 

VTTO M. N. Aa/upaXTj. *Ez/ 'A^Vaw, 1886. 8", cr. 96. 
IOTA1O2 KAI^AP. Sat/cecr7ret/)ou " 'lovXtos Kalcrap ". MeTa^>/oacrt9 e/A/ter/305 

'AXe^avSpou 'P. 'Pay/caj8^. 'Ev 'A^vat?, 1886. (ev TOJJL. I2a> TWV " OtXoXoyi- 

/caiv 'ATTCIVTWV" avrou, 8", cr. 381539.) 
AMAETOS. TpaywSta 'ZaiKo-Tnjpov. v EjLtju,er/309 ftera</>/)acrts 'la/ctu^ov IloXvXa, /u,e 

Tr/ooXeyo/xefa Kal K/atrt/ca? OTj/xeuycrei?. 'Ev 'A^vats, 1889. 8", cr. ^'+244. 
AMAET. T/)ay<w8ta etg Trpa^eis TreVre, /xerac^/)acr0ercra e/c TOV 'AyyXiKoO VTTO Mt^ar)X 

N. Aa/xt/oaXry. 'Ev 'A^'vat?, 1890. 8", cr. 4+ 205. 

OnaS AFAHAS. Merac/y>acris M. N. Aa/xt/aaX^. 'Ev 'A0i}vais, 1890. 8 OV . 
Kpirt/cal Trayaar^pifcret? Teatpyiov KaXocryovpov Trepl 77)9 ju,erac^/3acrW9 TOV A^Xcrov, 

'I. IloXvXa. 'Avarv7rcuo-i9 CK TOV if' TO/X. TOV " Hapvacrcrov ". 'Ev 'A0^vat9 

1891. 8 W , <r. 59. 


2AI3IIHP. MeXe'nj/Jia M^ar)\ N. Aa/updX??, avayvaxrOev iv ra> <I>iXoXoyi/ca> 2vX- 

Xo*y<p Hapva<rcr$ rfi 14 Ae/ce/z/fynov, 1892. *Ei> 'A^qwus, 1893. 8", er. 30. 
*H ircpifaw laropta TOV EMHOPOT TH2 BENETIA2, fte T^I/ dz^'/covcrnj dcnrXax^'a 

TTOV TOV '8ete a<f>rov TOV 'E/i7ropou 6 SaijXo/c 6 'O/fyno?, OcXovras vav TOV /cot/ret 

ftta TOV Xtrpa Kpeas .... y/>afificVi? a,7r' TOV "AyyXo TroirjTrj FovtXXtafi Se^Tnfpo, 

/cat /tcra^/Dacr/xe^ iriara xal pvfffJUKa O.TT TOV *AXe^. IlaXX-jy. 'A^rjr/a, 1894. 

8 or , <r. 120. 
XAMAET. Tpay^>8ta, fteTa^pacr^ctcra CK- row *AyyXt/cou VTTO M. N. Aa/xipaX-q. 

'EKS. jS', ftcra /xeXeVqs rrepl TOV TTOI^TOV, 'A^i^o-t, 1900. 8", o~. 258. 
KTMBEAINOS. T/3aya>8ta ets TreWe TrpdeLS fjiCTa<f>pacr0eL(ra .... VTTO 

N. Aa/u/saXTj. 'Ev 'A^'i/ats, 1903. 8", tr. 209. 
IOTAIOS KAISAP, T/)aya>8ta cis Tr/ad^ets TreVre /xeTa^/aao-^eto-a .... VTTO 

N. Aafti/adXiy. 'Ei/ *A^Vai5, 1905. 8^, o-. 128. 

APrEAOT BAAXOT, e/A/uer/>&>s, /cat /ACTCI o"r;/xec&>o-wi/. (eV BtjSXto- 
Ma/3ao-X^, dp^. 272-6.) 

Tevxos a' " PflMAIOS KAI IOTAIA ". *Ei/ 'A07paig, 1904. 8 OV , <r. 21 1. 
j8' " AMAET". *Ev 'A^Vats, 1904. 8 OV , <r. 235. 
y " O0EAAOS ". 'Ei/ 'A^r/Vat?, 1905. 8 OV , o-. 214. 
8' " BASIAETS AHP ". *Ev 'A^Vats, 1 905. 8", a. 2 1 2. 
e' " MAKBE0 ". 'Ev 'A^Vats, 1905. 8^, <r. 148. 
PIXAPAOS O F'., TpaywSta ets Trpd^ets 5. MeTa</>cur#eura e/c 7^9 'AyyXi/c^s VTTO 

Mtx^X N. Aa/xipdX^. 'Ai'aTVTrwo't? e/c TOV " M-^vtatov IlapapT^fjiaTOS " 

TT)S e^/xe/otSo? " 'A^vat ", TO/I. /T. TCUX O ? 7 "- 'Ev 'A0>yj>(U9, 1909. 4", cr. 57. 

(ei/ Xdya> TTC^W, /tTa wpoXoyov " e/c TWV TOV Tawney ".) 
TIMHN O AHNAIO^, TpaywSux ets Trpd^ets TreWe. MeTd<^/3ao-t9 M. N. Aa/mt/adX^. 

'Ev *A^^i/at9 (1909). 4", cr. 64. (ev Xoyw Tre^w, /x,e 7rpoXeyo/xet/a " e'/c TWI/ TOV 

G. Brandis ".) 

(Td 8vo TavTa (fxpovcnv CTTI K<f>a\7]<; : " 6eVpov Hevoi/ Sat^Tr^p ".) 
KOPIOAANO2. Tpaya>8ta ei9 Trpd^eig 5. MeTd<pacrt9 e/c T^9 *AyyXi/c^9 VTTO 

Mtxar)X N. Aa/xtpdX^. *Ev *A^at9, 1911. 8", cr. 108. 
ANTflNIOS KAI KAEOHATPA. TpaywSia et9 npagas 5. MeTa^acrtg e/c 

'AyyXt/ojs VTTO M. N. Aa/itpdXr;. *Ev 'A^t'ats, 1912. 8", cr. + 104. 

N.B. Besides the above published translations, the Winter's Tale was represented at 
the Royal Theatre in Athens in 1905, according to a Greek version by H. E. Monsieur 
Demetrius Caclamanos, of the Greek Diplomatic Service. In the same year the Midsummer 
Night's Dream was given, on the same stage, according to a version by the poet 
M. George Stratiges. The former play was given fifty times, the latter no less than a 
hundred. Both were elaborately staged under the directions of Prince Nicolas of Greece. 



DELLE ragioni di somiglianza fra Dante e Shakespeare il precipuo 
fondamento e certamente questo : che e Tuno e Taltro nelle loro figura- 
zioni storiche abbiano rappresentato a fondo, per entro alle sue gran- 
dezze e alle sue miserie, negli splendor! e nelle ombre, quel terribile 
mistero che e Panima umana. Poeti della realta immediata, e senza ne 
attenuazioni ne esaltamenti ritratta. 

Tali analogic fra i Due sommi si riflettono nelle vicende della loro 
fama ; avendo essi avuta comune la sorte di sottostare all' incuria, anzi 
al dispregio, dei letterati di professione in alcune epoche della letteratura, 
nelle quali rartificio prevaleva sul naturale, o, che e lo stesso, la menzogna 
sulla verita. 

Questo e il titolo massimo della loro grandezza ; questa e, sulle 
loro auguste fronti, Pimpronta di quell' eroico pel quale il Carlyle li 
agguagliava o approssimava agli istitutori di religione e ai profeti. E il 
Tommaseo, di Dante, enumerando gli elementi e le condizioni che 
* congiunti danno il poeta sommo ', scriveva : * L'uomo che piu ne rac- 
colse, e che, dopo i profeti, fu innanzi a tutti poeta, e un cittadino 
della repubblica di Firenze.' 





COME ogni popolo sente Tobbligo santo di difendere il territorio 
Nazionale y cosl deve difendere il territorio spirituals dove albergano 
i suoi grandi poeti, artisti e pensatori. 

L'Inghilterra non dovrebbe permettere le continue mutilazioni 
delle tragedie di Shakespeare, ne le loro riduzioni fatte per uso delle 
attitudini degli attori o dei gusti del pubblico. 

Occorre un grande movimento d'opinione pubblica per difendere 
rintegrita dell* opera dei geni. 

E indispensabile che da un centre idealmente luminoso come 
Londra si irradino in tutto il mondo dei Comitati composti di ingegni 
eletti, vigilanti su questo semplice programma: Uintangibilitd delle 
rappresentazioni tragiche di Shakespeare. E noi, credenti nelle mistiche 
corrispondenze fra il cielo e la terra, solleveremo YEschilo moderno da 
un affanno maggiore di quello inflittogli da coloro che gli negano la 
sua esistenza individuale ! 





TRECENTO anni soli dalla sua morte ? 

Ma quando io penso a Guglielmo Shakespeare lo sento contem- 
poraneo di Dio. Anch' egli ha create 1' uomo : uomini e donne con 
pienezza di vita, creature pervase da tutti i tumulti della passione, 
illuminate di tutte le luci, velate di tutte le ombre, segnate di tutte le 
impronte della umanita piu compiuta : anime e carni vere, non come 
i libri disseccano ma come si muovono e sanguinano con i loro dolori 
e con le loro miserie nella tragedia e nella commedia, non mai bene 
distinte, che sono la nostra vita : giganti e pigmei, eroi e volgo, mostri 
e spiriti, un mondo concitato e animato con la onnipotente impassibilita 
di un Dio creatore. 

Poi segue in me un altro pensiero : egli ha fatto assai piu ; ha 
impresso le sue creature di tale uno stigma d' arte da renderle eterne, 
lucide e trasparenti, per modo che gli uomini vi riconoscessero quanto 
hanno in se di divino, di bestiale, di umano, e ne avessero responso 
alia loro inquietudine e luce alia loro tenebra. 

Poi finalmente io son tratto a considerare non senza sgomento che 
arte, per quanto questa parola sia la piu alta e divina che splenda sul 
nostro intelletto, non abbia tale capacita da contenere quella grandezza. 
Egli, solo, non patisce, non concepisce P arte come un freno, come un 
confine, sia pure augusto e magnifico. Si pone sopra air arte, la signo- 
reggia, la sforza a significare tutto ch' ei vuole, dentro e fuori da quelli 
che dicono i suoi domini. I Greci le posero per suoi limiti, le diedero 
per suo ritmo, la Bellezza e la Sublimita. Egli le ha fatto oltrepassare 
queste colonne d' Ercole : le ha detto Plus ultra /, le ha fatto tutto toccare, 
tutto esplorare, tutto comprendere. Egli non soffre limitazioni. Come 
il cielo, come il mare, ha per unica legge la legge universa : anch' egli 
e una forza della Natura. 

Pertanto egli e solo ed immense, il piu vasto, il piu possente, incom- 
parabilmente il piu grande di tutti i poeti di ogni tempo e di ogni nazione. 



SHAKESPEARE, come Dante, non e il poeta di un popolo : egli e il 
simbolo di una nazione, ma la sua grandezza e tale, che trascende ogni 
limitazione di confini, per toccare quelli dell' umanita. Shakespeare, 
come il solo Dante, fra i poeti dell' eta moderna, e il poeta di un mondo. 
Percio e giusto che, a celebrare il terzo centenario della sua morte, 
le voci concordi di tutte le nazioni civili si uniscano in un' unica voce 
possente dell' umanita, intonando al morto poeta 1' inno dell' apoteosi. 
6 giusto che di lui, il quale canto non per una nazione, ma per il 
mondo, gli uomini tutti, quanti sono capaci di comprendere la sua 
parola, dicano oggi : Sono trecento anni che Shakespeare e morto, 
e da trecento anni il suo genio illumina il mondo, che stupefatto ammira, 
ogni giorno, lo spettacolo della sua gloria, sempre nuova come quella 
del sole risorgente ogni mattina a illuminare la terra. 

All* infuori e al di sopra di questa alta ragione onde tutte le nazioni 
civili oggi si stringono, in un ideale cerchio di ammirazione e di venera- 
zione, intorno al nome di Guglielmo Shakespeare, 1' Italia puo gloriarsi 
di ammirarlo e venerarlo, anche perche awinta, da legami intimi e 
diretti, all' opera immortale del grande poeta. Dall' antica storia di 
Roma, che e storia d' Italia, dagli eroici casi e dalle tragiche vicende di 
Coriolano e di Cesare, che sono di nostra gente, Shakespeare trasse 
argomento e ispirazione ad alcune delle sue piu potenti concezioni 
drammatiche. La piu alta parola d'amore che un poeta abbia mai detta, 
parla di noi, parla di Giulietta e Romeo ; i quali sono italiani, non 
soltanto perche il genio che li ha creati li fece nascere, amare, morire 
in Italia, ma perche nacquero, amarono, morirono con cuore veramente 
italiano. Non 1' azzurro cielo di Verona e di Mantova (che Shakespeare 
non vide mai, ma indovino) fanno di Giulietta e Romeo due creature 
nostre, ma il sangue schiettamente italiano, che il poeta con mirabile 
intuito, con un senso quasi miracoloso di divinazione, trasfondeva nelle 
loro vene. Se Shakespeare fosse nato in Italia, o, almeno, avesse vissuto 
a lungo fra noi, certo, non avrebbe potuto meglio sentire, e meglio inter- 
pretare nella tragica storia dei due amanti veronesi, 1'anima italiana. 

Non senza una giusta ragione di orgoglio 1'Italia ricorda, oggi, 
nel professare la sua ammirazione per Guglielmo Shakespeare, che il 


meraviglioso strumento onde egli seppe esprimere tutte le umane 
passioni, dalle piu soavemente liriche alle piu terribilmente tragic he, 
con uguale perfezione di verita e di sentimento, giungeva a lui attraverso 
la rinascenza degli studi umanistici italiani. A noi e titolo di orgoglio 
il ricordare, che il blank verse, il formidabile nemico dell' heroic couplet, 
deve, probabilmente, la sua prima origine ad una umile traduzione 
italiana, in verso sciolto, dell' Eneide di Virgilio. questa la traduzione 
del Molza, pubblicata nel 1541, la quale suggeriva al Surrey (cosl, 
almeno, sembra molto probabile) 1' idea di tradurre in inglese, in un 
verso analogo a quello del traduttore italiano, il poema di Virgilio. 
Toccava, cosi, al semplice e dimesso endecasillabo del Molza la gloria, 
non piccola, di dar vita, indirettamente (attraverso al fortunate tentative 
del Surrey), al pentametro giambico inglese sciolto dalla rima, che, 
dopo essere divenuto il verso del Tamburlaine the Great, per la magica 
arte di Shakespeare doveva diventare il verso di King Lear, Macbeth, 
Antony and Cleopatra. 

Con questo, s'intende, nulla togliamo alia originalita e alia naziona- 
lita del poeta di Stratford : a noi e caro, oggi, ricordare tutto cio, soltanto 
come espressione sincera di tutta la nostra ammirazione e venerazione 
pel poeta nazionale dell' Inghilterra ; della nobile nazione alleata, la 
cui fiorente letteratura, fin dalle sue origini, con 1'opera di Goffredo 
Chaucer, stabiliva, fra il popolo inglese e 1'italiano, quell' alleanza di 
simpatia spirituale e intellettuale che e durata ininterrotta fino ad oggi. 

In questa nuova primavera 1'umanita gronda di lacrime e di sangue 
per il flagello dell' immane guerra, che improwisamente si e abbattuto 
su di lei : ma essa non poteva dimenticare che trecento anni or sono 
moriva Guglielmo Shakespeare. 

Soldati di Giorgio V, soldati che, combattendo per la comune 
indipendenza dei popoli, difendete la terra di Shakespeare, nel giorno 
solenne che, dopo tre secoli di gloria, riconduce la grande ora in cui il 
radiante spirito del poeta trasvolava all* immortalita, cessate, per un 
istante, dalla lotta generosa pel sacro e pure ideale di liberta : e, volta 
la fronte al sole, presentate le armi ! 

Poi, ognuno di voi, pieno il petto del recente augurio, torni al suo 
poste di eroe, per deporre le armi solo quando sia giunta 1'ora di dire, 
con la parola del vostro Shakespeare : 

' Let's all cry : " Peace, freedom, liberty ! ' 





MENTRE scrivo queste righe si vengono pubblicando sul * Giornale 
d 'Italia J di Roma alcuni miei articoli che recano per titolo : * Amleto 
e Giordano Bruno ? ' II pubblico inglese leggera tra non molto il testo 
di questi articoli in lingua inglese, e si convincera io spero, io m'au- 
guro che il titolo non e cosl esagerato come sembra. 

Pensiero e vita formano una cosa sola in Giordano Bruno, e sono 
ambedue tragici e costituiscono insieme la piu alta tragedia della liberta 
di coscienza dell 1 epoca moderna. 

I documenti che ci restano della vita del filosofo novatore italiano 
e le notizie che abbiamo a riguardo del massimo poeta umano moderno, 
Guglielmo Shakespeare, ci autorizzano ad affermare che Giordano 
Bruno, svestito dell' abito di monaco domenicano, fu a Londra negli 
anni 1584-1585, al seguito dell* ambasciatore di Re Enrico III di Francia, 
Michel de Castelnau de Mauvissiere, presso la Regina Elisabetta d'lnghil- 
terra. A Londra il celebre novatore italiano, nato il 1548, e quindi nella 
eta di trentasei anni, recava con se un patrimonio ricchissimo d'opere 
filosofiche e letterarie compiute, la fama di scrittore di commedie 
il ' Candelajo ' pubblicato il 1582 a Parigi e piu che tutto le sue per- 
sonali qualita fascinose di ragionatore e di polemista. A Londra Gior 
dano Bruno fu ammesso alia corte di Elisabetta, poi insegno ad Oxford 
ed introdusse in Inghilterra le idee Kopernicane, che sino allora v'erano 
ignorate. Fu amico personale del Florio, del Sidney, di lord Buckhurst, 
del conte di Leicester, e di parecchi altri illustri. Naturalmente le 
sue lezioni, i suoi ragionari privati e i suoi nuovi libri pubblicati in 
Londra, destarono molto rumore e sollevarono acerbe polemiche, tanto 
che il Bruno dovette abbandonare I'lnghilterra, tornare in Francia 
e passare quindi in Germania. Quivi Io seguirono parecchi nobili 
inglesi che erano stati suoi uditori ad Oxford ed a Londra e fra essi 
Fynes Morison che fu poi valente prosatore e filologo, Antonio Everstild, 
Martin Turner. Del Morison sono noti i Viaggi in Germania ed in 
Italia, i quali non possono non essere stati letti dallo Shakespeare. 


A Londra, negli anni 1584-1585, Giordano Bruno pubblicava le 
opere seguenti : Delia causa, principio e uno De rinfinito, universo 
e mondi Lo spaccio de la bestia trionfante Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo 
La Cena de le ceneri Degli eroici furori. Guglielmo Shakespeare era 
allora appena ventenne e la tragedia Hamlet non fu pubblicata prima del 
1603, e cioe tre anni dopo la morte gloriosa sul rogo di Giordano 
Bruno, e diciotto anni dopo la pubblicazione dell' ultima opera lon- 
dinese di Giordano Bruno. 

Ora si noti : (i) che la tragedia Hamlet e seminata di frasi, di espres- 
sioni, d'immagini, di pensieri che si trovano nelle su citate opere di Bruno ; 
(2) che il brano letto da Hamlet quando Polonius gli chiede che cosa 
legga e un brano de lo * Spaccio de la bestia trionfante ' ; (3) che il pedante 
e un personaggio del ' Candelajo ' bruniano e rassomiglia a Polonius ; 
(4) che Hamlet manifesta la filosofia dell' essere dei libri bruniani ; (5) che 
egli e invaso dalP * eroico furore ' d'un' alta impresa alia quale sacrifica 
ogni ideale personale inferiore e che questa impresa si compie mediante 
la morte di tutti i personaggi principali della tragedia ; (6) che Hamlet 
non e un carattere tragico, ma un tipo psichico, una natura d'eccezione 
che fiammeggia e si manifesta imperiosa ed assoluta quando Toccasione 
degna di lei si presenti ; (7) che nella tragedia si accenna spesso al- 
Puniversita di Wittemberg dove Giordano Bruno ha insegnato. 

Si notino questi elementi, si torni con la mente a quell* anno 1600 
mese di Febbraio nel quale, per Toccorrenza del giubileo pontificale 
di Clemente VIII, Roma era affollata da oltre tre milioni di persone 
e piu che trecentomila furono le comunioni impartite in quel giorno 
nefasto del 17 febbraio 1600, ed alia subitanea rinomanza dell' evento, 
specie a Londra dove Giordano Bruno era notissimo ; e si leggano le 
opere di Giordano Bruno che il mio scritto analizza. 

Potra accadere in seguito che non siano pochi coloro i quali si 
avvicineranno air ipotesi che il divino Shakespeare abbia voluto con- 
sacrare nella creazione di Hamlet 1'eroico furibondo della liberta di 
coscienza Giordano Bruno da Nola, arso vivo dalla Santa Inquisizione 
di Roma dopo una esistenza di lotte e di glorie a Parigi, a Londra, 
a Wittemberg, ad Hoelmstaedt, a Praga, e dopo nove anni di prigione 
e di tortura. 

Allora non saro solo a credere che il genio di Giordano Bruno abbia 
esercitato una meravigliosa influenza feconda su quello di Guglielmo 
Shakespeare, e che Guglielmo Shakespeare sia stato il primo a capire 
Bruno e colui che gli ha alzato il monumento piu insigne. 




MIRA, hermano espafiol, como en la guerra 
Se olvida el hombre de la edad dorada ; 
Mares de sangre inundan a la tierra 

{ Quien piensa ya en Lepanto, ni en la Armada ? 

| Triste verdad ! De nuevo siente el mundo 
De cruel Atila el ominoso estrago ; 

Muere infeliz Cordelia, triunfa Edmundo, 
Y su canto infernal entona lago ; 

En Flandes reina Caliban artero 
Y a Francia heroica hiere con su azote . . . 

Pronto, hermano, caera ; porque el acero 
Ha recogido Albi6n de Don Quijote ; 

Vive en ella su espiritu gigante, 
Y vence \ al fin ! tu caballero andante. 




SHAKESPEARE ! a wizard's name indeed, at whose sound all men 
unite in wonder, spell-bound by the master-touch of Nature that makes 
the whole world kin ! To counterfeit truth to the life, a gift divine, 
born of an unsurpassed balance of judgement and imagination, an inner 
feeling of unsurpassed intensity, a clear vision of the mutual and final 
bearing of men and things, events and ideas, for which experience offered 
but the material to be worked upon, this was Shakespeare's supreme 
talent on the stage, as Cervantes' in the book, Velazquez' on canvas, 
and the nameless unknown Greeks' in marble. This it is which awakens 
in all men's hearts sympathy with Shakespeare and his work, because 
Truth or, as we call her in our material world, Reality, whatever her 
motley travesty in tongue, customs, manner, shines out through all and 
by all is recognized. She is the goddess at whose feet mankind stands 
enthralled with wistful gaze, understood of all, of all beloved because 
in each so deeply though so differently felt in kind and in degree. 
Others besides Shakespeare have reared stately domes of fancy ; lofty 
in conception, faultless in proportion, glittering with the jewelled 
mosaic of every ingenuity by man's brain devised, but because so 
faultlessly designed, because so laboriously polished, losing by their 
very perfection the natural aspect, the feature of possibility which Shake 
speare's work ever retains without impairing the grandeur of the whole. 
As well compare a palace of the Renaissance with a Gothic cathedral 
or an enamelled snuff-box with Flamborough Head ! Nothing seems 
too lowly, too familiar, to be cast aside by the great artisan. All is 
blended as the thousand threads of a parti-coloured web or the countless 
hues and tints of a landscape, each in its right place and value. But 
above and through all the great work keeps on its course, human in 
itself, because the faithful presentment of man's thoughts and passions 
whether in comedy, drama, or tragedy ; showing up by a happy flash 
of detail the homely, humorous side of life in the king's mansion or 
uplifting to the ideal by a stroke of genius the pathos of a wood-cutter's 
cabin ; consistently maintaining as the Essential Truth itself unity in 


variety ; ennobling the vulgar for the public gaze and treating subjects 
of elementary greatness with elementary breadth untrammelled by the 
petty rules of Conventionality, but faithful ever to the fundamental 
laws that render Art divine. Such is Shakespeare's towering superiority ; 
this the key to his universal success in all time, in every land. 

Few are the peoples among whose dramatists are found such 
similarity of conception and method as the Spanish ! Intellectual 
Spain, either classical or modern, lies before British scholars in general 
as a world unexplored. Her poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, music, 
her folk-lore, her dance and sports offer unsuspected fields for research, 
comparison, and inspiration. What has been already written of them, 
when worth reading, hardly goes beyond the fringe. 

May the coincidence of Shakespeare's Tercentenary with that of 
Cervantes serve as a starting-point of greater interest in a race whose 
history and trend of thought was in close contact with the England of 
yore and has an undoubted part in the making of the intellectual England 
of to-day, a fact once recognized and now but half-remembered ! 


A. MAURA 437 


ENSALZAR a Shakespeare seria como ponerse a alumbrar al pleno dia. 
Ningun encomio, ni aun los que le prodigaron maestros insignes, cola- 
borando con su nombradia universal a la copiosa literatura que durante 
tres centurias tuvo por asunto las obras, la persona y la vida Shake- 
spearianas, equivale al hecho de hallar unanimes en la admiracion a la 
diversidad de pueblos y la sucesi6n de generaciones ; de modo que el 
testimonio honroso llena los ambitos de nuestra comun civilizacion y, a 
par de ella, se difunde de dia en dia. 

Es la suya aquella gloria que consiste, no en atribuir grado ventajoso 
entre iguales, sino en levantar sobre las eminencias y colocar en cate- 
goria separada y singular, al corto numero de privilegiados cuyos nom- 
bres, como blasones alentadores, conmemoran la divina alcurnia del 
alma humana. Su corona no puede ser usurpada, ni en su familia caben 

Permanecen siempre a disposicion de quien quiera los elementos 
primarios de la creacion literaria o artistica, asi los que provienen de 
realidades naturales o sociales, como los que emanan del alma individual, 
pensante, imaginativa y sonadora. Al leer o contemplar las obras 
maestras que la Humanidad tiene acopiadas, nos asombra hallar identicas 
tantas cosas como perduran en edades las mas remotas, aunque inter- 
vengan diversidad de razas y civilizaciones. En el aprovechamiento de 
esta cantera inagotable unos autores aventajan a otros muy senalada- 
mente ; entre magistrales magnificencias, vemos descollar cupulas 
grandiosas y torres atrevidas, que merecen y consiguen admiracion 
y aplauso, no tan solo de los contemporaneos, sino tambien de la pos- 
teridad. Mas Shakespeare no debe ser contado en el numero de estos 
glorificados artifices, ni es un grado superior de admiracion la nota 
caracteristica de su figura. 

Lo que distingue a Shakespeare, como a los pocos astros que 
forman su constelacion, es el don rarisimo, casi sobrenatural, de sus- 
traerse al moldeamiento espiritual que la cultura por los coetaneos 



poseida y atesorada impone a los hombres, aunque scan eminentes, 
y de remontarse hasta el manantial unico y misterioso, donde las genera- 
ciones venideras, hasta la posteridad mas remota, apagaran la sed de 
verdades y bellezas, que consume la vida del alma humana. 

En cada individuo, por muy poderoso que su espiritu sea, y por 
muy cultivado que este*, lo llenan casi por entero el caudal heredado de 
conocimientos y los tipos prestigiosos en que recibimos plasmados ya 
nuestros ideales, aun los que reputamos mds abstractos. Si fuese posible 
desentranar y aislar cada parcela de personal originalidad, nos asom- 
braria su pequene*z, aun en los maestros mas celebrados. Shakespeare 
es de aquellos pocos cuyas alas potentes y aquilinas les levantan, por 
excepci6n, sobre la atm6sfera espiritual donde fueron criados, y, sin 
advertirlo ellos mismos, les ensenorean de regiones inexploradas. Por 
esto resulta desmedida y esplendida su aportaci6n individual al secular 
y comun acervo ; por esto suelen desconocer su me'rito los contempo- 
raneos, si no es que vituperan por extravagante la novedad ; por esto 
se acrecienta su gloria en el curso del tiempo, renovador de los criterios 
y los gustos de las gentes, pero cautivo de las eternas leyes naturales que 
definen la belleza y la verdad. 

Quienes, en son de censura, midieron a Shakespeare por el patron 
de los clasicos, y motejaron su incultura, y trataron como selvaticos los 
brotes potentes de su ge"nio, preparaban sin saberlo el mejor testimonio 
de su grandeza ; testimonio confirmado con los homenajes de las nuevas 
generaciones, porque si la nota excepcional, que divorciaba a Shake 
speare de los tipos hereditarios, no hubiese consistido en una ascension 
subita y portentosa hacia los tipos ideales, arcanos e imperecederos, su 
originalidad no habria podido granjearle sino el olvido. 

Con lucidez insuperable, que tan solo se alcanza desde alturas 
dominantes, defini6 su propio ministerio, en las conocidas f rases del 
Hdmlet : * . . . reflejar la naturaleza, mostrar a la virtud su verdadera 
faz, al vicio su imdgen propia, y a los siglos y cuerpos del tiempo su 
forma y su presi6n.' Este programa, trazado para obras teatrales, las 
mas cenidas en tiempo, las angustiadas con mayores cortapisas y exigen- 
cias, tan solo se pudo redimir de la nota de ambicioso, siendo Shakespeare 
quien emprendiera su cumplimiento. 





ALGUIEN ha dicho : * La obra de Shakspeare es un hermoso paisaje 
sin cielo.' El autor de esta frase brillante pudiera decir como San 
Pedro : ' El Senor estaba aqui y yo no lo sabia.' 

Un poeta sin cielo es incomprensible. El poeta es un dios y los 
dioses hablan desde el cielo. Si Shakspeare se guarda de nombrar 
a la Divinidad, la Divinidad se halla presente hasta en los mas oscuros 
rincones de sus dramas. 

Y despues de todo <; porque hemos de nombrar tantas veces a Dios ? 
i No es una irreverencia ? Newton se llevaba la mano al sombrero cada 
vez que se pronunciaba el nombre de Dios. Nosotros lo vimos sin 
emocion como el apellido del vecino. 

La fecha en que me he asomado por vez primera al mundo shak- 
spiriano quedara por siempre grabada en mi memoria. 

i Que encanto tendria para mi este mundo si sobre el no desplegase 
el cielo sus magnificencias inefables ? Porque he hallado en el descrita, 
como nadie lo ha hecho jamas, esa lucha profunda, desesperada, tragica 
y comica a la vez entre los ciegos apetitos de nuestra naturaleza animal 
y las aspiraciones elevadas de nuestro ser espiritual, es por lo que me 
produjo el mayor goce estetico que he disfrutado en mi vida. 

Si de la obra de Shakspeare quedasen excluidos los llamados 
* valores superiores ', el Ser infinite y eterno, el bien y la verdad ; si de 
las escenas de sus dramas no pudiera sacarse otro jugo que el de unas 
peripecias de orden material engendradas por la diferencia de fuerza, 
entonces sus creaciones ofrecerian el aspecto siniestro y monotono de 
una clinica. Si alii no hubiese cielo, si el amor, la compasion, el valor, 
la dignidad, el sacrificio que con tal vigor describe no hallasen eco en 
un mundo trascendente, entonces todas estas cosas no serian mas que 
sintomas de una vida declinante, enfermedades cerebrales que aparecen 
cuando los instintos sanos se debilitan. 

i Que valor tendrfan las almas de su Warwick, de su Timon, de su 
Coriolano ? i Quien comprenderia a Goneril si no hubiese cielo ? El rey 

F f 2 



Lear seria un loco mds 6 menos divertido y su adorable hija una idiota 
si sus nobles imdgenes no se reflejasen alia a lo lejos en los irisados 
confines de un mundo superior. 

Figure*monos d Shakspeare contemplando impasible de que modo 
Regania y Cornuailles arrancan los ojos al anciano Gloucester, i El 
poeta no verd en esta acci6n infame mas que un juego de la naturaleza, 
algo curioso digno de ser pintado ? Imaginemos que se encuentra 
detrds del carcelero Huberto cuando este va a quemar con un hierro 
candente los ojos del principe Arturo. i Habria puesto en los labios de 
este inocente niiio tan conmovedoras suplicas sin pensar que hay angeles 
que las escuchan ? 

Horrible es pensarlo. No ; por encima de la obra de Shakspeare 
se extiende un cielo y este cielo es grande y esplendoroso porque es 
proporcionado al paisaje. 





EN el mismo ano pasaron de esta vida mortal William Shakespeare 
y Miguel de Cervantes. Las razas inglesa y espafiola llegaban en la 
segunda mitad del siglo xvi a un prodigioso florecimiento de cultura, 
a un esplendor material e intelectual que asombra y anonada. Era el 
momento en que debian producir la flor suprema de su genio. Ambas 
hallaron en Shakespeare y en Cervantes los hombres que debian fijar 
para siempre su lengua como instrumento del arte literario, los que 
debian crearles una literatura como producto de su historia, encarnaci6n 
de su caracter nacional y guia eterno de su inspiraci6n. 

Profundamente diversos en sus concepciones, como es diversa el 
alma inglesa de la espafiola, los dos genios se asemejan en que ambos 
no solo representan a sus razas respectivas en sus obras, sino aun en 
su caracter individual y en sus vidas. 

Shakespeare es una combinacion equilibrada de idealista y de 
hombre practico, de poeta sonador y de negociante afortunado. Mien- 
tras escribe aquellas obras en que todos los mas altos y nobles ideales 
humanos hallan una expresion y en que la fantasia juega con los reflejos 
del sol y los rayos de la luna, no olvida sus inter eses materiales y guarda 
previsoramente una fortuna que le permitira retirarse del teatro y vivir 

El autor del Quijote es un soldado aventurero, caballeresco e intre- 
pido, que combate en Lepanto, que sufre una cautividad en Africa, que 
aspira en sus horas de tristeza a emigrar a America, * refugio de los 
desesperados de Espafia ', que escribe en una prision gran parte de su 
obra inmortal, que rie en medio de la melancolia de su estrecha vida, 
que se cubre de gloria literaria y de popularidad, pero que, imprevisor 
y descuidado, vive y muere mezquinamente. 

Ambos fueron reconocidos por su siglo y celebrados como los mas 
grandes genios literarios que habian producido aquellas naciones. Los 



poderosos los agasajaron y se honraron con su amistad. En la vida de 
Shakespeare pasa Lord Southampton y en la de Cervantes el Conde de 
Lemos. Sus obras fueron comprendidas de los refinados, de los erudites, 
de los ignorantes, del vulgo. Muchedumbres acudian al teatro de 
Shakespeare y el Quijote alcanzaba en vida de su autor un exito que 
jamds obra alguna habia tenido en Espana. 

Y ni Shakespeare ni Cervantes tienen en sus patrias monumentos 
dignos de su gloria. La modesta estatua de Leicester Square es digna 
hermana de la triste figura de la Plaza de las Cortes de Madrid. 

Las razas inglesa y espanola crearon el indestructible monumento 
a la gloria de Shakespeare y de Cervantes cuando en una carrera audaz 
por los mares y las tierras desconocidas descubrieron mundos, ensan- 
charon sus dominios, difundieron su lengua, dieron a la humanidad un 
campo futuro de riqueza. 

Mas de veinte naciones hablan hoy la lengua de Shakespeare o la 
de Cervantes en America, Asia, Africa y Oceania, fuera de un numero 
incontable de islas sembradas en todos los mares y que son centros de 
cultura britanica o espanola. 

Todos esos pueblos, algunos de los cuales alcanzan ya su pleno 
desarrollo, tienen a los dos genios como representatives de sus razas, 
como gui'as de su pensamiento, senores de sus ideales, maestros de su 
naciente actividad intelectual. 

Si se imagina que un cataclismo destruye la Europa, que una con- 
vulsi6n pavorosa hace desaparecer estas nacionalidades que por tanto 
tiempo han guiado el progreso humano, todas las lenguas que en ellas 
se hablan serian en breve lenguas muertas como el griego y el latin, y sus 
literaturas se convertirian en objetos de pacientes investigaciones para los 

No asl las lenguas inglesa y espanola que son las de tantas nuevas 
nacionalidades en cuyo seno esta elaborandose como en una caldera la 
humanidad futura. Shakespeare y Cervantes seguirian siendo los 
verdaderos poetas epicos de esos pueblos que entenderian su lengua 
y sentirian toda la belleza de sus obras. 

Que monumento puede asegurar una inmortalidad mayor que la de 
Homero y de Virjilio, de Esquilo y de Plauto, sino esta certidumbre de 
que los dos genios ingles y espanol tendran siempre un contacto directo 
e intimo con masas humanas que los comprenderan, que hablaran su 
lengua, que recojeran sus lecciones, que les levantaran en su propia 
cultura un templo en que seran perpetuamente venerados ? 


La America que habla espaiiol necesita tanto como la inglesa 
estudiar a Shakespeare, no para imitar lo inimitable, no para copiar lo 
que toda copia desfigura, sino para fimdar sus nuevas formas literarias 
sobre lo que en la obra del grande hijo de Stratford hay de eterno y de 
eternamente aprovechable. 

Shakespeare ensena a las jovenes literaturas americanas, que hoy se 
esfuerzan por darse un caracter propio, la gran Iecci6n del patriotismo 
y del espiritu nacional. El ha creado y fijado para siempre el drama que 
evoca el pasado de un pueblo para estimularlo a construir un porvenir 

La estupenda serie, que va desde el reinado de Ricardo II hasta el 
de Enrique VIII, es como un inmenso fresco animado, viviente, que 
contiene los mas grandes elementos que el teatro puede hallar en la 

El pueblo ingles amaba, sin duda, la historia de su pai's y queria 
verla reproducida en el teatro. El pueblo imponia al poeta ese rumbo, 
pero el poeta le devolvia su inspiration purificada y ennoblecida. 

Shakespeare se cine a la verdad historica tal como en su tiempo se la 
conocia. Sus heroes son histdricos y son seres humanos completos, no 
simples figuras decorativas, y se mueven en el vasto campo de esos 
dramas enormes con sus pasiones propias, individuales, que ayudan 
a entender los sucesos en que han tornado parte. Sus caracteres son 
hondos y defmidos. Sus acciones varias y complejas. A veces se 
destacan en un escenario que dominan, y otras se funden en la colecti- 
vidad del pueblo, que es, en suma, el heroe supremo de la obra historica 
de Shakespeare. 

Nada comparable nos ofrece nuestra rica literatura dramatica 
espaiiola. Calderon y Lope de Vega, Tirso y Ruiz de Alarc6n, han 
pasado indiferentes junto a la portentosa leyenda de gloria que habian 
vivido sus padres y que sus contemporaneos continuan realizando. 

La obra de Shakespeare despide en su conjunto y en cada uno de sus 
detalles como un perfume de belleza moral incomparable. Cuales- 
quiera que sean las acciones buenas o malas de sus personajes, y muchas 
de ellas son contrarias a la moral y aun monstruosas, el espectador o 
lector de Shakespeare recibe de sus dramas y comedias una impresion 
que lo eleva, que lo dignifica, que lo hace mejor. Ni una sola vez, en 
todo el vasto ciclo de su teatro, cayo su limpio espiritu en una debilidad. 
El bien, la justicia, la verdad resplandecen siempre. Una idealidad 
infinitamente pura persiste dentro de la naturaleza real que sin cesar 


En vez de caer en las imitaciones de literatura decadentes y mal- 
sanas, los escritores que en la America espanola estan luchando para 
formar a sus patrias un teatro propio deberian buscar en Shakespeare 
la manera de interesar profundamente, de ser natural y humane, sin 
despreciar la moral. 

En los dramas y comedias del bardo ingles un sagrado respeto a la 
familia inspira aun a aquellas obras en que las acciones representadas son 
mas contrarias a la santidad del hogar. Su genio no necesitaba el 
medio de su absoluta expresi6n y de fondo recurrir constantemente, 
como en nuestras agotadas literaturas, al marido burlado, al amante 
y a la mujer que se desespera bajo el vinculo conyugal. 

Acaso no era su epoca mas moral que la nuestra, sino todo lo con- 
trario, y seguramente ningun autor moderno seria capaz de crear situa- 
ciones tan atrevidas y tan terriblemente humanas como alguna de sus 
comedias ; pero el era un genio potente, variado, siempre renovado, 
y no habria podido resignarse a la misera impotencia del teatro de 
nuestros dias que se da vueltas dentro de una misma situaci6n con tres 
personajes que jamas cambian. 

El teatro ha llegado a ser en este siglo xx algo asi como la vieja 
comedia italiana, un drama de Polichinela, Colombina y Arlequin, con 
un variable enredo siempre igual y los mismos golpes para regocijo de la 

Nuestras literaturas han empobrecido miserablemente la repre- 
sentacidn del amor, la mas grande y bella de las pasiones, la unica que 
tiene autoridad suprema en todos los movimientos de la humanidad. 
Huyan los j6venes escritores de America, que deben mostrarse fuertes 
y sanos, de imitar lo que es signo de vejez, de decadencia, de ingenio 
resfriado y perezoso. Aprendan en Portia y Bassanio, en Viola y Orsino, 
en Elena y el Conde de Rousillon de All's well that ends well, de Julia 
de Two Gentlemen of Verona, en esos tipos incorporados a la historia 
humana, Julieta, Ofelia, Desdemona, el secreto de la infinita y encan- 
tadora variedad del amor, distinto en cada ser, noble y abnegado aquf, 
celoso y violento alia, puro y desinteresado en estos, sensual y voluptuoso 
en aquellos. 

Por ultimo, la gran Iecci6n moral que Shakespeare ofrece a las 
literaturas de todas las razas es que el arte moderno, y en particular el 
teatro, debe reconocer y proclamar la ley de las responsabilidades 
humanas. Si en algo es el teatro de Shakespeare una revoluci6n contra 
el clasicismo, es en que griegos y romanos ponian la fatalidad como una 
ley de la vida individual y de la historia, mientras que el poeta ingles ha 


restablecido los fueros del albedrio, creado seres humanos con voluntad 
libre, sobre los cuales ningun destino ciego tiene poder, que poseen una 
personalidad propia y toman las responsabilidades de sus actos. 

Cuando se admira en el desarrollo y progreso de la raza britanica la 
obra de las individualidades poderosas, no siempre se piensa en que la 
suprema manifestation de su arte literario es toda entera un himno a la 
libertad humana, una negation de la fatalidad, una afirmacion de los 
privilegios de la voluntad. En toda la obra de Shakespeare no hay mas 
que una fuerza que mueve a los personajes, scan trajicos o comicos, 
historicos o fantasticos, una fuerza que varia segiin los caracteres, el 
temperamento, la raza, las pasiones individuals, y es la voluntad. 

Shakespeare ha hecho en su obra la epopeya de la vida moderna. 
La existencia que el describe a lo largo de su creation vastisima y multi- 
forme es la de nuestro tiempo, tal como nosotros la concebimos, com- 
pleja, activa, ajitada, sin limites en la ambition, con horizontes tan 
grandes que parecen hundirse en lasregiones que los sentidos no alcanzan. 
Todo lo que hay en los cielos y en la tierra cabe en la obra de Shake 
speare, como todo cabe en la actividad material e intelectual de la edad 
en que vivimos. 

El bardo ingles aparecio sobre la tierra cuando ya descubierta la 
America y difundida la imprenta el espiritu humano tomaba un vuelo 
gigantesco que aun no ha cesado. Shakespeare abre y resume la edad 
moderna. Para la inspiration del arte literario de las jovenes democra- 
cias de America el ofrece la unica fuente que sera siempre clasica, en 
el sentido de perfecta en el fondo y la forma, y perpetuamente nueva. 
I Acaso pueden envejecer el mar, los efectos de la luz en los cielos o los 
acentos con que el amor exhala de una generation a otra sus ansias y sus 
quejas ? 

Cervantes al terminar el Quijote sintio, junto con la melancolia 
inefable de su alma enamorada de los seres que habia creado y de quienes 
le era forzoso separarse, la potencia de su genio, y en una pagina de una 
orgullosa elocuencia dijo que dejaba colgada su pluma donde deberia 
quedar * por luengos siglos ', sin que nadie fuera osado a descolgarla para 

Hacia el final de The Tempest dij erase que Shakespeare ha tenido 
tambien la conciencia de su poder creador con la tristeza de la obra bella 
terminada y entregada a los siglos. Prospero, en quien no es dificil ver 
al mago de Stratford, se despide de los espiritus del aire, de la tierra 


y de las aguas que le han obedecido y obrado bajo su conjuro las mas 
estupendas maravillas, recuerda como ha dominado a los vivos y los 
muertos, mandado a los vientos y al rayo, servidose de las selvas y los 
mares para sus prodigies ; y luego, renunciando a sus artes majicas, 
dice : 

I'll break my staff, 
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth. 
And deeper than did ever plummet sound 
I'll drown my book. 

Los pueblos que las razas espanola y britanica han sembrado en el 
mundo no tendremos la osadia de descolgar y profanar la pluma de 
Cervantes, ni hemos de escarbar en vano la tierra y sondar los mares 
infinites en busca de la vara majica y del misterioso libro de Shakespeare. 
Pero seguiremos oyendo la musica divina de su lengua y el ritmo interno 
de su inspiraci6n que nos da un noble y humano concepto de la vida, de 
los hombres, de las energias de la voluntad, de la historia y de la natu- 

Estas creaciones seran el vinculo siempre vivo con nuestro pasado 
en que toda el alma de los que nos enjendraron habra quedado en 
manifestaciones activas. Ellas se nos apareceran como sombras bien- 
hechoras y nos serviran de guias cuando nuestras nacionalidades atra- 
viesen esas selvas oscuras que hay en el camino de todos los pueblos, 
pen'odos de duda, en que la raza pierde la seguridad en si misma, se 
desconoce, vacila y no sabe cual es el sendero aspero o facil que ha de 
llevarla al cumplimiento de sus destinos. 

Y si un dia, en el rodar de la historia, la Europa a que debemos 
nuestra existencia, nuestra cultura, lo que somos y hemos sido, sufre 
y enloquece de dolor en el tormento de alguna de sus grandes crisis, el 
vinculo creado por Shakespeare y Cervantes hard que este nuevo Rey 
Lear vea surjir del otro lado de los mares las Cordelias britanicas y 
espanolas fieles a las razas que les dieron el ser. 



. . . VERIAMOS entao o milagre de uma intellegencia a que o sobre- 
natural sempre repugnou as apparigoes dos seus dramas sao meras 
hallucinagoes de remorso ou visoes hystericas uma intelligencia ex- 
clusivamente interessada nos soffrimentos da humanidade e nos seus 
prazeres, provocar atravez dos seculos o riso e as lagrimas com a mesma 
intensidade e a mesma pena com que se ria e chorava no seu tempo. 
Veriamos entao o milagre de uma intelligencia puramente intuitiva a 
engendrar uma creagao nova e completa que symbolisasse em figuras 
immortaes a humanidade inteira, com o seu formidavel cortejo de 
paixoes, de virtudes, de crimes. Comprehenderiamos entao como e 
possivel que ainda hoje nos encontremos em Shakespeare a explicacao 
das nossas desordenadas ambigoes, dos nossos pensamentos, do nosso 
insaciavel desejo do que e novo, da nossa obstinada resistencia a minima 
abdicagao do orgulho individualista, e tudo isso a despeito das condicoes 
e exigencias de uma tao differente organisagao social. Ah ! como e bella 
a licao que nos proporcionam genios de tal grandeza. A admiracao que 
elles inspiram une n'um mesmo sentimento as ragas mais antagonicas. 
Se os nomes de Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Corneille, Cervantes, 
Camoes lembram povos diversos, a sua fama ultrapassa as estreitas 
barreiras das nagoes e a sua obra alimenta o espirito da humanidade 
inteira, de que elles sao o justo orgulho e a mais pura gloria. 

Seria inutil e ate ridicule que eu tentasse emittir juizos e conceitos 
novos acerca da obra de Shakespeare. Houve ja algum escriptor que 
provocasse tanta controversia, tanto commentario, tanto estudo, tanta 
dissertagao como este ? Seria extremamente difficil a qualquer estran- 
geiro ajuntar novidade aos trabalhos conhecidos e ainda mais difficil 
talvez fazel-o em linguagem que nao fosse a propria sua. fi este um 
ponto para o qual chamo a vossa attencao pedindo ao mesmo tempo 
que me escutem com indulgencia. O panegyrico de Shakespeare 
exigeria um poder de expressao e um recamo de imagens tao delicado, 
que seria difficilimo de realizar mesmo na propria lingua em que o 
nosso pensamento se alimentou e desenvolveu, porque as imagens 
correspondem na linguagem ao que sao nas plantas as flores e as 
fructas. Disloquem-se essas plantas do sole e do clima que Ihes 
convem : os seus fructos tornar-se-hao insipidos e as suas flores per- 
derao o perfume. Procurem-se imagens n'uma lingua estranha e o 
resultado nao sera mais de que uma serie de desemxabidas compara- 
goes. Quern ousaria emprehender semelhante tarefa para louvar o mais 


encantador, rico e brilhante creador de imagens ? Essa tarefa s6 pode 
ser commettida a actividade espiritual dos artistas ingleses, cujo trabalho 
Ihes dara sempre completa satisfa9ao e recompensa. Vide como recen- 
temente um dos vossos mais habeis e ingenhosos escrip tores, Frank 
Harris, architectou uma novella preciosa com o estudo do amor tal como 
Shakespeare o pintou. E com que irrefragavel verdade o fez ! Outros 
artistas Ihe seguirao a pista no inexaurivel filao que elle descobriu. Nao 
quero cancar-vos com um extenso discurso que sempre vos seria de 
pouco ou nenhum interesse,mas antes de terminar desejo contar-vos como 
foi que, na minha ja remota mocidade, la nos confins da Europa, n'uma 
obscura aldeia do cabo de S. Vicente, eu comecei a sentir a influencia 
d'este grande poeta aquelle que mais fundamente me penetrou a alma. 
Acudiram-me primeiro os doces nomes das amantes puras e divinas : 
Ophelia, Imogenia, Virgilia, Cordelia o anjo da bondade e de modestia. 
Depois as desgra^adas que sofTreram na carne dolorida : Julieta, Desde- 
mona ; e logo as mulheres diabolicas e terriveis como Cleopatra e Lady 
Macbeth ; e as espirituosas e risonhas : Beatriz, Rosalinda . . . Depois 
a infinita galeria de heroes, d'ambiciosos, de guerreiros, de traidores, 
de bardos, de assassinos, tao variada e tao viva, na qual sobresaem as 
duas grandes figuras de Falstaff e Hamlet o colossal Falstaff, conjunto 
de todos os vicios, lidimo symbolo da vida animal ; e o melancolico 
Hamlet cuja alma oprimida e espirito fallaz ainda hoje me perturbam 
intensamente. Esses nomes acercaram-se de mim pouco a pouco pelos 
bons e maus caminhos que a mocidade trilha, nas conversa9oes familiar es, 
nos folhetins dos jornaes baratos, nas novellas de autores mediocres. 
Que immensa curiosidade elles despertarem no meu cora9ao de crean9a, 
que desejo, que sede de amor e de aventuras ! E que surpresa, mais 
tarde, quando os encontrei na obra do poeta, semilhantes aos esbo9os 
da minha mocidade ; e no amadurecer da intellegencia, sendo-me dado 
penetrar nas mais reconditas clareiras d'essa maravilhosa floresta, nada 
se poderd comparar nunca ao prazer, a plenitude de sensa9oes, a alegria 
artistica que ali experimentei. Mas maior ainda do que a minha admi- 
ra9ao e o sentimento de profunda gratidao que conserve pelo poeta, 
como ao maior dos meus mestres espirituaes e a quern eu devo talvez 
os melhores momentos da minha vida. 

Excerpto de um discurso pronunciado em francez no Palacio Municipal de Stratford" 




IT is over five hundred years since the age-long association between 
England and Portugal was first consecrated by a formal alliance. For 
two centuries the Portuguese and the English pursued the same national 
and imperial career Portugal being ever in the lead whether in African 
crusade, American conquest, or European culture. 

Thus Portugal had had a Shakespeare in the Manoeline Court play 
wright, Gil Vicente, a century before our corresponding Elizabethan 
age produced an equally inexplicable marvel. As little is known of 
their Gil as of our Will, and the precedent (extended even to the existence 
of a Bacon in the jurist and classicist, Sa de Miranda) may be of interest 
to good Shakespearians. 

The age of Shakespeare found Portuguese nationality, and there 
with the British alliance, in temporary eclipse. But this tercentenary 
has coincided with a courageous reassertion of the alliance consequent 
on a renascence of Portugal in the Republic. Those who cannot 
understand how it comes that this proud little nation has taken its 
stand at our side may find inspiration in the following lines from the 
Lusiads of Camoens : 



You Portuguese are few, but fortified 
through ne'er your weakness with your will contrasting. 
You, who at cost of death on every side, 
still spread the Gospel of life everlasting. 
You, that for Holy Christendom abide, 
On you, before all, Heaven the lot is casting 
to do great deeds, though you be few and weak, 
for thus doth Heaven exalt the poor and meek. 




See now the Germans, stiff-necked steers are they, 
ranging at pasture over fertile meads. 
From Peter's place-holders they broke away 
to seek new pastors, and new-fangled creeds. 
See them in foulest warfare pass their day, 
(blind errors not sufficing for their needs !) 
not righting against the mighty Moslem folk, 
but shaking off the sovereign moral yoke. 


All newest and most formidable inventions 

in deadly weapons of artillery 

should have been proved by now in stern contentions 

against the bulwarks of Byzance and Turkey : 

Dispersing to their wild and wooded mansions, 

in Caspian hills and snows of Tartary, 

that Turkish brood which mounts and multiplies 

on wealthy Europe's foreign policies. 


Armenian and Georgian, Greek and Thracian, 
each cries for help, in that the brute Soldan 
takes his dear sons in terrible taxation 
as is approved by the profane Koran. 
The punishment of this inhuman nation 
should be the glory of a brave statesman 
not the pursuit of arrogant applause 
by bullying others of the Christian cause. 



But while these races, blood-thirsty and blind, 

wade deep in gore, a mob maniacal, 

there wants not warriors of Christian mind 

in this so humble house of Portugal. 

On Afric's shores the Portuguese you find : 

in Asia, Portugal was first of all : 

in the New World none broke new ground before them, 

and were there more new worlds, they would explore them. 





PE acest spa^iu urma sa figureze omagiul ce pana autorizata a 
Meiestafii Sale Regina Elisabeta a Romanic! , poeta incoronata cuno- 
scuta sub numele de Carmen Sylva, era sa prezinte nafiunei Britanice 
in memoria nemuritorului Shakespeare in numele nafiunei Romane i 
al Su propriu. Cruda soarta a rapit poporului Roman aceasta mare 
figura, aceasta muma a Jarei noastre, si a impiedecat ca ilustrul Ei nume 
sa fie pus pe aceasta pagina. Carmen Sylva, promotoarea si protectoarea 
literilor si artei in Romania, mi-a exprimat adesea admirafiunea Ei 
profunda pentru marele poet Britanic, acest neasemanat educator al 
Omenirei, si de necesitatea de a propaga studiul si cunostinfa lui in tara. 
Stimulul pornit de sus si zelul literajilor nostri a contribuit mult la 
lafirea din ce in ce mai mare a studiului lui Shakespeare in Romania, 
la care, ca la o fantana nesecata, se adapa tinerele genera^ii romane. 

In Aprilie 1914, cu ocaziunea festivitajilor anuale la Stratford-on- 
Avon, Carmen Sylva m'a insarcinat a remite Societatei Shakespeariene 
din zisa localitate urmatorul omagiu-salut scris cu mana poetei : * O ! 
Fericita Anglie, care ai dat nastere celui mai mare poet al lumei.' 

Timpul, distanja, epoca anormala in care viaja noastr^ se scurge 
astazi, nu au permis ca un poet, un literat roman sa ia locul cuvenit in 
aceasta publicafie si astfel sunt dator eu, in numele Jarei mele, sa aduc 
aci omagiul plin de respect si recunostinta pentru marele Shakespeare 
si sa exprim partea vie ce din toata anima poporul Roman ia la tricen- 
tenarul mortei nemuritorului fiu al Marei Britanii. 

N. Miu 

(Trimis Estraordinar i Ministru Plenipoten^iar 
al Romaniei la Londra). 



THIS space should have been filled by the homage which the com 
petent pen of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Roumania, the crowned 
poetess known under the name of Carmen Sylva, intended to present 
to the British nation in memory of the immortal Shakespeare in the 
name of the Roumanian nation and her own. Cruel fate has taken 
away from the Roumanian people this great figure, this mother of the 
country, thus preventing her illustrious name figuring on this page. 
Carmen Sylva, the promoter and protectress of literature and art in 
Roumania, has often expressed to me her profound admiration for the 
great British poet, that inimitable educator of mankind, and impressed 
the necessity of the propagation of the study and knowledge of the poet 
in Roumania. The stimulus coming from the throne and the zeal of 
our literary men have highly contributed to the expansion of the study 
of Shakespeare's works in Roumania, from which the young generations 
draw higher ideals as from an inexhaustible fountain. 

In April, 1914, on the occasion of the annual festivities at Stratford- 
on-Avon, I was desired by Carmen Sylva to present to the Shakespearian 
Society of that place the following simple homage, in the handwriting 
of the poetess : * Oh ! happy England, that gave birth to the world's 
greatest poet.' 

Time, distance, abnormal circumstances through which our life 
passes to-day, did not allow that a poet, a Roumanian literary man, 
should partake of the honour of representing the nation in this publica 
tion, and so it is my duty, in the name of my country, to offer here my 
homage full of respect and gratitude for the great Shakespeare and to 
express the vivid part the Roumanian nation takes whole-heartedly 
in the Tercentenary Observance in veneration of Great Britain's 
immortal son. 


Envoy Extrs 


ROUMANIAN LEGATION. Envoy Extraordinary, and Plenipotentiary 

Minister of Roumania in London. 




PEU d'e*crivains jouissent d'une popularity semblable a celle de 
Shakespeare. Le poete anglais est aime* dans tous les pays du monde 
cultive. L'etendue et la profondeur de son genie peuvent se mesurer 
a 1'enthousiasme que ses oeuvres suscitent partout. II serait interessant 
de passer en revue la diversite* des appreciations emises a son sujet. 
Chacun, en effet, Penvisage a travers son temperament propre, cherchant 
en lui les qualites qu'il prefere. Autant de critiques, autant d 'opinions 
diffe* rentes. On Pa admire pour toute espece de raisons ; on a pu 
ecrire un ouvrage entier sur Thistoire de ses oeuvres en France. Voltaire 
lui a emprunte plus d'un trait, vantant (non sans quelques reserves) 
sa force et sa fecondite ; les romantiques francais goutent la violence 
de ses contrastes ; les naturalistes, par centre, voient en lui un obser- 
vateur de premier ordre. Malgre* les divergences de gout fondamentales 
entre 1'esprit anglo-saxon et 1'esprit latin, de purs Fran9ais tels que 
Victor Hugo ou Gustave Flaubert entretinrent pour Shakespeare un 
culte fervent. 

L'auteur de Madame Bovary, en parlant de lui, recourt aux epithetes 
les plus enthousiastes. Toutefois 1'esprit de parti altere 1 'exactitude de 
son jugement. Les romantiques s'etaient reclames de lui ; Flaubert, 
romantique renegat, s'effor9a de Tenroler dans les rangs du naturalisme. 
' Est-ce qu'on sait seulement, ecrit-il dans sa correspondance, s'il 
etait triste ou gai ? L'artiste doit s'arranger de fa9on a faire croire a la 
posterite qu'il n'a pas vecu. Moins je m'en fais une id^e et plus il me 
semble grand.' 

Ces lignes trahissent le dogmatisme militant d'un theoricien. 
Nous ne pensons pas qu'un ecrivain grandisse en se faisant inabordable. 
Flaubert se trompe quand il nous montre en Shakespeare un etre 
superieur et lointain, un homme isole de nous par la puissance de son 
genre. L'abondance de sentiments et de pensees chez Shakespeare ne 
provient pas d'une observation indifferente, mais, bien au contraire, 
est la marque d'un esprit foncierement humain. En vrai poete, il a 
connu nos inquietudes secretes, nos esperances ardentes et nos desap- 


pointements les plus amers. Son impersonnalite n'est qu'apparente. 
L'intensite et la merveilleuse richesse de sa sensibilite donnent Pillusion 
de Pimpersonnalite. A force de vibrer a toutes les impressions, a force 
de ressentir les innombrables passions de Pindividu, il a ete rendu 
capable de peindre les hommes les plus divers en un vaste tableau. 

Shakespeare n'est pas impersonnel, il est complexe. Ses drames 
renferment beaucoup de passages accusant un lyrisme evident. Quand 
on connait les principales etapes de son evolution interieure, on retrouve 
dans son theatre Pecho direct de ses souffrances. 

Son oeuvre est le resume typique de la vie d'un homme superieur. 
Apres une jeunesse exuberante, apres les bouillonnements de verve des 
premieres comedies, le poete devient plus calme, il acquiert le sens des 
realites et raconte la vie des souverains anglais dans des drames his- 

A Page de trente-cinq ans, il traverse des experiences douloureuses, 
Thorizon s'obscurcit pour lui ; cette periode sombre reste mysterieuse. 
Une trahison d'amitie, peut-etre un amour malheureux ou la disgrace 
de ses amis, ebranlent son temperament robuste. A la gaite succede 
Pamertume, il ne croit plus au bien, Phomme lui parait un etre me- 
prisable, le monde est mal fait, alors il crie sa douleur dans les paroles 
desenchantees d'Hamlet, dans les rugissements du vieux Lear, dans les 
invectives de Timon le misanthrope. II a soulage ses tourments en les 
proclamant par la bouche de ses pe